Sunday, June 12, 2016

Cinemawala by Kaushik Ganguly

India (Bengali), 2016
105 min, drama, dysfunctional family
Directed by Kaushik Ganguly
Starring Paran Banerjee, Parambrata Chatterjee, and Sohini Sarkar

Pranabendu Das was the proud owner of a single-screen theater in one of the rural suburbs of Kolkata until it went out of business upon the advent of digitalization. Now, with his trusty employee Hori, Pranabendu constantly laments the downfall of old-style theater and his son Prokash’s abhorrent trade of selling pirated DVDs.

Now Pranabendu and Prokash barely speak to each other, and Prokash’s wife Moumita is stuck in the middle. When Prokash gets a brilliant idea to make more money illegally, how will his principled father react?

I saw this movie in a traditional single-screen theater in Kolkata with Tintin and his 80-year-old aunt. This was the perfect place to see this movie, both because of the theme and because some of the shots of the theater in the film lined up perfectly with the seating arrangement in front of us. However, I found little to like in the film itself.

The Ultimate Dysfunctional Family

If you like depressing movies about incredibly dysfunctional families, this one might be up your alley. Prokash and Pranabendu hate each other. They never speak to each other, despite living in the same house. Prokash is resentful about having to provide food for his aged father, especially because his father hates how he makes the money. He also thinks his father is stupid because he did not upgrade the theater as Prokash recommended and considers it his father’s fault that he had to take up selling pirated DVDs.

Pranabendu not only hates his son, but also gets drunk every night and reminisces about the glory days of the theater. He is definitely out of touch with reality, and this has apparently caused his wife, Prokash’s mother, to abandon him and move to Kolkata. Prokash’s mother is currently taking care of her own father, who is senile and partially paralyzed because of a stroke. Prokash apparently only visits his mother when there is some big news; otherwise, she never hears from him.

And then there is Moumita, Prokash’s wife, who takes good care of her father-in-law. They have a good relationship, but it is constantly sabotaged by the ongoing row between the father and son.

Piracy and Paying the Creators

One good thing that this movie does is point out the problems with piracy. Not only is Prokash doing something illegal but, as his dad points out, it also takes away any profit that the creators may have received. This is an important message in India today, where piracy, plagiarism, and other kinds of intellectual theft are commonplace.

I did not see anything likable about this movie, but if the description I have given above seems attractive, go ahead and watch it. And, just out of curiosity, I would be interested in hearing your opinion of the film.

Further Reading: 

"10 Awesome Single Screen Cinema Halls of Calcutta" from The Calcutta Girl
"Fading Lights" by Subhro Niyogi from The Times of India (2011)

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