Calcutta Mail: A derailed attempt
Critic's Rating: 17/5
Friday 5 September 2003
Sudhir Mishra's Calcutta Mail follows a man who lands in Calcutta searching for someone dear. The person who he is looking for has been kidnapped. The film has been inspired from the South Indian hit Choodaalani Vundi.
Avinash (Anil Kapoor) lands in Calcutta from Bihar in search of someone. But his search leads to his realising the fact that some one in the city wants him dead. His search is about a guy called Paswan, who is to answer some of his queries. He manages to get a house in a chawl where he encounters Bulbul (Rani Mukherjee). He makes friends with her. But his dilemma is unsolved. Paswan is killed and now he only has Ghatak (Sourabh Shukla) to bank on. Unfortunately for him, Ghatak is a mean guy who will do anything for money. Avinash?s dilemma is what Calcutta Mail is all about.
The story starts on a very promising note and the tempo is well maintained in the first one hour of the film. Although confusing, the screenplay in the first hour is pretty engrossing. However, as soon as Anil Kapoor tells Rani why he is in Calcutta and who is he looking for, the film falls flat. No doubt, the happenings are very interesting but it fails to hold the interest of the viewer. The second half abounds in faults. It also proves to be too long and the whole film takes a completely unique turn. Apart from the Anil-Manisha sequences in the second half, the whole film proves to be a pain and drags leaving the viewer just bored.
Director Sudhir Mishra has handled a few dramatic scenes with ease. But he should've gone in for an out-and-out realistic fare, instead of trying to strike a balance between realism and formula-ridden cliched stuff. It would only have benefited the project had it been songless. The songs not only hamper the pace of the film, but are also bad to say the least. In a thriller the screenplay ought to be captivating and the pace of the film should be maintained right till the end. In this case, though the film starts off well, the pace drops as the story moves ahead, picks up again in the second half, but falls flat in the climax.
Anil Kapoor is brilliant in the film. Not only does he look intense in the dramatic sequences, but also maintains the right emotions wherever needed. Rani Mukherjee does not have much to do, but she leaves her mark. Manisha is, as usual, dependable. Satish Kaushik is brilliant in a cameo. Sayaji Shinde shines and does his part well. Sourabh Shukla is okay. The rest of the cast pass muster. Sudhir Mishra loses his track and just could not get his mail back on track. If not for the wonderful performances, the film would have been a disappointment right from the word go.