New Delhi: This is not a movie. It’s a drug-induced hallucinating trip that you take to someone else’s reality. The bylanes of an old city, the rickshaw and its Bruce-Lee-obsessed puller, the constant hurl of abuses and the shifting realm of what is and what could be, makes ‘Gandu’ a kickshaw. With the aspirations, frustration and rap of the protagonist, Gandu, the audience gets a new form of cinema to devour, a far cry from the usual wishy-washy rom-coms.
The film shows a teenager, known as Gandu to everyone, in a desperate attempt to escape the life he is imprisoned in. Rap music, his only friend Ricksha (a rickshaw puller from the neighbourhood), attempts to win a lottery and his online escapades to video games and porn keep him on. The movie moves on seamlessly through a stream of illusions, dreams and erotic hallucinations. Primarily a black and white movie, the use of colours in some of the shots has added to the richness of the imageries.
The introduction of the director in the movie, seen as filming the intrigued protagonist, is perhaps a first of its kind attempt in Bengali cinema. With the audience conscious of its constructed reality, the director achieves a hyper-reality that makes Gandu a treat in itself.
There has been much hype about the sexuality portrayed in the movie since last year, when it was shown in Berlin and a host of other major film festivals. Sex is as much a part of this movie as it is of our real life, and if there’s anything brave done in the movie, it’s the decision to show it with all its pleasure, pain and gruesomeness. The director, Q as he likes to call himself, must be applauded for juxtaposing actuality and fantasy to make the sequences surreal.
The music of this movie deserves special mention. Rap as a genre is not very popular in Bengal, and all credits go to Q, who is also the lyricist, for the creative use and introduction of Rap music to Bengali cinema. It comes out as the ideal form of music for Gandu to vent out his ever-lingering frustration.
We often ignore the role subtitles play for audiences unable to understand the text. Q has used subtitles innovatively to translate and ellucidate at the same time. Rather than being a stream of texts down the screen, they become a part of the movie in defining what it is about.
All the characters have put in their best efforts. Both Komolika and Rii have exuberated confidence in all the sex scenes, showing their maturity as actresses. While Anubrata (playing Gandu) seemed a tad contrived at a few places, Shilajit deserves special mention for portraying the character of ‘Dasbabu’ so believably without any dialogue. For those who appreciated the young Herbert in Suman Mukhopadhyay’s award-winning Herbert, here’s a treat from Joyraj again. The Bruce Lee worshipping, drug addict not only brings in a punch of humour, but also of irony with his repeated admiration of Gandu’s life.
If you are a cine-lover who regularly complains about the quality of movies our directors produce, don’t. You can now go watch Gandu, if you know where to get it.