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Fiction

This beautifully lensed Bengali film, oozing sophistication, quickly loses its fascination as the realization dawns that "Fiction" is nothing more than a succession of arty images sans logical plot. Experimenting with narrative conventions is undoubtedly the aim of director Malay Bhattacharya, making his feature film debut. But as one character --- a film projectionist --- portentously notes, "There is much in common between cinema and sleep." Many viewers of "Fiction" will find this to be true. Breaking cleanly with Indian filmmaking tradition, pic resembles nothing so much as an existential French gangster movie. Story, such as it is, involves three nice, sensitive guys who have inexplicably turned into desperadoes and kidnapped a little boy who's ill. One man reads the disjointed pages of a diary, which turns out to be his own. A young man is told to get lost by his girlfriend. A bunch of projectionists stand around philosophizing and lamenting that nobody goes to the movies anymore (in India??). A hounded-looking taxi driver pilots kidnappers around country roads with the sick child in the back seat. Stopping for gas, they meet some strange characters. They hole up in the ruins of an old country house. The child dies. End.

With:
With: Dhritiman Chatterjee, Debesh Roy Chowdhury, Debashish Goswami, Rabi Gosh.

Bhattacharya obviously is interested in more than storytelling, and there are hints that everything in the film is supposed to be read symbolically. Perhaps all the characters are aspects of a single person and the dying boy represents the end of childhood. This is the kind of sensitive, humorless pic that is so personal it will appeal to few people outside patient, curious festival auds. Their reward is a series of painstakingly constructed images offering a photographer’s aestheticized perspective on India. These fine compositions and Sunny Joseph’s cinematography are the best reason festivals will have to greenlight this offbeat entry. Debajyoti Mishra’s score is also nice.

Fiction

Indian

Production: A Movie Mill production (Calcutta). Directed, written by Malay Bhattacharya.

Crew: Camera (color), Sunny Joseph; editor, Arghyakamal Mitra; music, Debajyoti Mishra. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Forum), Feb. 18, 1997. Running time: 105 MIN.

With: With: Dhritiman Chatterjee, Debesh Roy Chowdhury, Debashish Goswami, Rabi Gosh.

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