What is the story about?
As the Mullick family congregates from all over the world at their decadent mansion in Kolkata for Durga Puja, clashes of ego and ideologies ensue across generations, even as lies, secrets, forbidden desires and tales of betrayal tumble out into the open.
At the end of the last episode of this show, after watching a cliffhanger play out (that keeps hopes of a second season alive), the words flash across the screen—”A Tribute to Rituparno Ghosh”. The makers needn’t have bothered, though. The long shadow of the late auteur's 2000 film Utsab hangs heavy over this entire show. Creator and director Abhinandan Dutta pays tribute to Utsab in more ways than one, but uses the format of a web-series to talk about the secrets and intrigues of the Mullick household and it’s various members. Over the course of eight episodes, Dutta fleshes out various characters and their back-stories (with one glaring exception), even as he explores the challenges faced by a family from the time of Partition to the present day. Various themes such as forbidden romances, the communism-versus-capitalism debate, the commercialization of Bengali culture and more are explored in great detail, but it is to Dutta's credit that they never weigh down the narrative. This is a terrific show that knows its beats, and, in spite of Ghosh's legacy, manages to sail through with a narrative that makes you want to spend more time with the Mullick family.
The ensemble cast here does really well, and it is impossible to single out any one for particular praise. Koushik Sen, Rwitobroto Mukherjee, Aiswaria Sen, Abanti Dutta and Satyam Bhattacharya are all good. But the characters who truly stay with you, long after the credits have rolled, are Sreya Bhattacharrya as Rini, and Ishani Sengupta as Mina.
Music & Other Departments
Ajaan Mahalanabish's rendition of “Biplober Poth Bholay” deserves special mention. Casting director Aritra Protim Biswas puts together a believable ensemble cast for this show. Bablu Sinha's production design is top-notch. Mayukh-Mainaak's background score is effective and keeps the Puja vibe ticking throughout the tension-fraught narrative. Mrinmoy Nandi's camerawork and Swarnavo Chakraborty's editing help in building up the intrigue.
The Durga Puja celebrations in the Mullick household are well-shot. And this is noteworthy for a show that has practically no exterior shots of Kolkata.
In this well-written show, there are two drawbacks that stick out like sore thumbs. The first one is Aiswaria's weird accent. It’s obvious that she is playing a character who has been brought up in London and this she will have an accent, but it becomes more and more inconsistent as the show goes on.
The second flaw is the character of Mina. For a character that is an important cog in this layered narrative, it is shocking that her character's vulnerable status in the Mullick household is all that the makers could capitalise on. There's no mention of her back-story, and by the end of the show, even the makers seem to run out of ideas on what to do with her poorly-written character.
There's also the issue of the cliffhanger at the end, which seems unclear and forced. Perhaps the makers will clear that mystery up in a subsequent season.
Did I enjoy it?
Do I recommend it?
Yes. This is easily one of the best shows taken out by a Bengali OTT platform in the last couple of years. And one only hopes this is the start of a fruitful second innings for Addatimes.