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Memories in the Mist

Failure, success and family tensions are mixed into a slow-cooking brew in "Memories in the Mist," a typical mood piece by writer-director Buddhadeb Dasgupta. Pic has a confusing flashback structure and the overall air of lassitude looks unlikely to win the director many new converts beyond fest aficionados.

With:
With: Mithun Chakraborty, Rahul Bose, Sameera Reddy, Labani Sarkar, Sudipta Chakraborty, Sagnik Chowdhury, Tapasya Sengupta, Sunil Mukherjee, Subhashish Mukherjee, Aniruddha Dhar. (Bengali dialogue)

Failure, success and family tensions are mixed into a slow-cooking brew in “Memories in the Mist,” a typical mood piece by writer-director Buddhadeb Dasgupta. Enthusiasts of the Bengali helmer’s work (“The Wrestlers,” “Chased by Dreams”) will find much to admire here, and once again Dasgupta gives proof he’s the closest to a modern equivalent of Satyajit Ray. However, the pic has a confusing flashback structure and the overall air of lassitude looks unlikely to win the director many new converts beyond fest aficionados.

Main character initially appears to be Ashwini (Mithun Chakraborty), who haunts a middle-class nabe of Calcutta pining in v.o. for his son, Sumanta (Rahul Bose), with whom he hasn’t spoken for years. A devoted father to his two young kids, Sumanta turns out to be an unassuming, easygoing type who’s the polar opposite to his ambitious wife, Supriya (Sameera Reddy). She pretty much ignores him, and is gung-ho about a forthcoming trip to Gotham to visit her brother.

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Pic cross-cuts between the stories of the father and son, before finally bringing them together to work out their past conflicts.

On the one hand are Ashwini’s memories of his wife, Putul (Labani Sarkar) — and their big old house by a river in rural Baharampur –and of Abha (Sudipta Chakraborty), his onetime mistress and now an actress in touring legit. On the other, there’s Sumanta’s ongoing marital problems with Supriya, who eventually returns from the States as a bestselling writer of travel books, most of which she admits she’s cribbed from existing guides.

Gradually, Sumanta emerges as the heart and soul of the pic. He’s passed over for promotion at work, further adding to his sense of failure in his wife’s eyes. He immediately takes 10 days’ leave and hightails off with his kids to visit his mom, leading to more chewing over of their past and their unhappy marriages.

All of this is beautifully shot and processed in widescreen, with figures framed against the landscape. But there’s very little actual conflict between the characters, considering the story’s potential, and the pacing is, to say the least, leisurely.

Bose brings a hangdog charm to Sumanta, a loser in his wife’s eyes but a hero to his two kids. Reddy’s Supriya is more of a lightly caricatured wannabe — a script device — than a real character compared with the others; and the pic, via TV clips of Dubbya proselytizing on the American Dream, makes several obvious digs at the transparency of Supriya’s own dreams.

Other roles are solidly played.

Memories in the Mist

India

Production: A Jhaamuu Sughand presentation of a PJ Sughand Prods. production. (International sales: PJ Sughand, Mumbai.) Produced by Jugal Sughand. Executive producer, Sanjaay Routray. Directed, written by Buddhadeb Dasgupta, from his novel "America, America." Associate directors, Arun Guhathakurata, Sohini Dasgupta, Penny Fowler-Smith.

Crew: Camera (color, widescreen), Sudip Chatterjee; editor, Sanjib Datta; music director, Biswadeb Dasgupta; production designer, Swapan Kr. Ghosh; art director, Samir Chanda; sound designers, Anup Mukherjee, J.D. Babu. Reviewed on DVD, Berlin, Feb. 3, 2006. (In Berlin Film Festival -- Panorama). Running time: 121 MIN.

With: With: Mithun Chakraborty, Rahul Bose, Sameera Reddy, Labani Sarkar, Sudipta Chakraborty, Sagnik Chowdhury, Tapasya Sengupta, Sunil Mukherjee, Subhashish Mukherjee, Aniruddha Dhar. (Bengali dialogue)

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