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Jul 12, 2008 at 09:29am IST

Khela, an intimate tale but lost in translation

Cast: Prosenjit Chatterjee, Manisha Koirala, Raima Sen

Director: Rituparno Ghosh

Also arriving at multiplexes this weekend is the Hindi dubbed version of director Rituparno Ghosh's Bengali film Khela which stars Prosenjit Chatterjee as Raja Bhowmick, a committed film director who's determined to cast the perfect boy in his latest film.

Unfortunately for Raja, the parents of the boy he's zeroed in on, refuse to let their son go away on the six-week outdoor shoot in a remote forest. Excited by the prospect of skipping school, the boy himself suggests that Raja kidnap him and take him for the shoot. Encouraged by little Abhiroop's enthusiasm and convinced that he's the perfect kid for the role, Raja does just that.

Over the next few weeks, Raja develops a kind of love-hate relationship with the mischievous boy who unconsciously arouses Raja's paternal instincts. Khela also explores the strained relationship between Raja and his wife Sheela (played by Manisha Koirala). In between his day-to-day shooting pressures, Raja must also confront his feelings for his wife and deal with all the personal upheaval.

Like many of Ghosh's recent films, Khela too is a deeply intimate tale about conflicted protagonists. It's really a simple story about simple emotions, none of the dramatic and mostly exaggerated stuff we're used to seeing on screen.

Rituparno Ghosh often strums up those tender little personal moments between characters that form the emotional core of his films. Khela, sadly, has only a few such moments and as a result, the movie is – for the most part – tedious and boring. Which is a pity because of the fine performances from all the principals.

Prosenjit Chatterjee is just right as the brooding Raja who succeeds in drawing your empathy even though much of his wounds are self-inflicted. Manisha Koirala is wonderfully fragile as Sheela, and Raima Sen once again shines under Ghosh's baton, this time playing the costume designer with a crush on the director.

Akashneel Dutt Mukherjee who plays little Abhiroop is no child prodigy, but gives the film some of its softer moments, especially in his scenes with Prosenjit.

Khela is not a bad film, but one that requires much patience on your part. What lets the film down more than anything else, is its poor Hindi dub. The inflection in the actors' voices, the charm of the Kolkata culture, the very integrity of the film is lost in translation.

I'm going to go with two out of five and an average rating for Rituparno Ghosh's Khela. If you want to see vintage Ghosh, rush to the library and rent Bariwali or Titli on DVD. Those are gems that you mustn't miss, even if you decide to give Khela a pass.

Rating: 2 / 5 (Average)

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