WBRi Movie Review: FLOP-E (2012) - Paoli Dam Delivers Encouraging Performance as Suave Corporate Career Woman

Director Pritam Sarkar - FLOP-E (2012) Bengali Movie
Pritam Sarkar, director

FLOP-E (2012) Bengali Movie Poster WBRi

Calcutta, Feb 24, 2012 (Washington Bangla Radip / Penning Creations) Over the last few months, the Tollywood industry has been fortunate enough to witness the release of a series of smart, stylish and ‘different’ movies. While ‘Jani Dekha Hawbey’ and (more successful!) ‘Bedroom’ delved into the intricacies of urban relationships, ‘Aparajita Tumi’ was a masterpiece in itself, as was Nobel Chor. The (arguably!) most popular Bengali sleuth wowed the audience yet again in Sandip Ray’s latest ‘Feluda’ flick, ‘Royal Bengal Rohosso’. Director Pritam Sarkar looks to carry this trend of successful and audience-savvy Bengali films forward with his first foray into filmmaking, ‘Flop-E’.

Sabyasachi Chakraborty

The movie was well-promoted and already had the distinction of being the first Bengali film ever to have premiered in London. With an ensemble cast featuring a nice mix of seasoned actors and fresh faces, ‘Flop-E’ was expected to be yet another addition to the golden phase that Tollywood is currently going through.

The movie, however, is a relative letdown, particularly considering the amount of pre-release hype it was associated with. ‘Flop-E’ entertains, but only in fits and spurts!

The Making of Flop-E (2012) Video

In ‘Flop-E’, we meet successful businessman ‘Pranabesh Mitra’ (Barun Chanda), a man who has never tasted failure in his entire life. In an interview at the studios of Star Ananda, ‘Pranabesh’ reveals that, in life, success is not an easy thing to achieve and one needed to be sincere and focused to realize his/her ambitions. In a discussion session on the rapidly rising suicide counts in the state, ‘Pranabesh’ gets into a verbal brawl with another studio guest, who points out that, people who take their own lives, do so under extreme duress and peer pressure. The latter also states that, since ‘Pranabesh’ had never felt the pains of failure in his career, he is not in a position to understand the motives that lead individuals towards committing suicide. Intrigued by this observation, ‘Pranabesh’ decides to try to...hold your breath...take on a project that is destined to fail (not a common dream, one must say!).

In an urgently convened business meeting, ‘Pranabesh’ urges his employees to come up with such project proposals that would definitely incur losses, at least for the first year. ‘Mrittika’ (Paoli Dam), a young and promising executive at the company, comes up with the idea that they should try out their hands in the Bengali entertainment industry. More specifically, they would meet noted movie directors, learn about the tips and tricks that ensure the box-office success of films and then, make a movie themselves, in which none of such foolproof ideas would be implemented. Such a film would surely flop and ‘Pranabesh’ would (as he wished for!) get a taste of failure in life. The latter likes ‘Mrittika’s idea and the two start working on the project.

Things start to fall in place, with ‘Mrittika’ getting in touch with her ex-flame, ‘Rudra’ (Suvrojit Dutta), a wannabe movie director, who had earlier given up on a promising academic career to chase his passion for theatre (the main cause of rift between him and ‘Mrittika’). Keeping the awkwardness of the situation in mind, ‘Mrittika’ poses as ‘Riya’ (a fictional character) to contact ‘Rudra’. The latter agrees to come aboard the project and also brings his friends (and fellow strugglers!), ‘Ani’ (Dipankar Mukherjee), ‘Ritwick’ (Joy Ganguly) and ‘Sanjeeb’ (Sanjeeb Mukherjee) in the film, as the cinematographer, scriptwriter and music director, respectively. ‘Rudra’ and his team, however, have no idea that the film that they would be making is intended to be a flop. The movie duly gets made (with Sabyasachi Chakrabarty playing the main lead!) and the entire team is seen again at the Star Ananda studios, promoting the film on the eve of its release. Does the film actually flop, as ‘Pranabesh’ wants? Or does it become a success, proving to be a perfect launching pad for ‘Rudra’ as a director? With ‘Flop-E’ having an open ending, viewers would have to figure that out on their own!

‘Flop-E’ features sincere, but somewhat inconsistent, performances from its lead actors. Barun Chanda, as businessman ‘Pranabesh Mitra’ impresses with his towering screen presence (coupled with a fantastic voice quality!) in the initial reels of the movie. Unfortunately, Chanda’s character is increasingly relegated to the background as the film moves on. It is, indeed, rather surprising to see such a brilliant actor (and who is chiefly responsible for making the first half-hour of ‘Flop-E’ so captivating!) being underutilized in the movie. Paoli Dam, as the suave corporate lady, ‘Mrittika’ (or ‘Maati’, as she is nicknamed in the movie!) delivers a sound performance. In a somewhat sketchily developed character, Paoli’s acting prowess manage to shine through, reaffirming the belief that she is one of the most talented among the current crop of young actresses in Tollywood. Paoli looks fabulous in her corporate attire and emotes well too. However, her stilted dialog delivery (particularly when interacting with her boss, ‘Pranabesh’) sounds rather odd, particularly since her overall performance in the movie is uniformly fluent and spontaneous.

The performances of most of the other cast members of ‘Flop-E’, however, leave a lot to be desired. Suvrojit, as the passionate and determined ‘Rudra’, tries hard but does not quite manage to portray the angst and inner troubles of his unfulfilled life on the big screen in a credible manner. Joy Ganguly, as ‘Ritwick’, has some of the best lines in the film and the sequences in the movie that feature ‘Ritwick’ and his friends do evoke some genuine laughter from the audience. Sabyasachi Chakrabarti, as himself (and as the hero of the ‘film within the film’!), is fantastic in a brief role. Sabyasachi has been doing different types of films (apart from being the resident ‘Feluda’!) and ‘Flop-E’ once again proves his versatility as an actor (not that he had much to do in the film!). Sabyasachi’s real-life mother (who attended the premiere show of the movie with her son) has a small part. None of the others manage to make a mark in their relatively miniscule roles.

Director Pritam Sarkar tries to punch in too many themes and issues in ‘Flop-E’ and this does not quite work out in favour of the film. Sarkar tries to delve into several contemporary and relevant societal issues (all at once!) in the movie, but ends up having just scraped the surface of such problems. The film features discussions on unhealthy parental and peer pressure on young kids, snide remarks on college politics and pot-shots taken at the recent trend in the Bengali film industry of adapting hit films from the South. The young director displays enough courage to showcase the ruthlessness of cheap media gimmicks that have become a byword in the present-day corporate world. To give where credit is due, the filmmaking expertise of Pritam Sarkar is apparent in several sequences in the movie (the scene where Sabyasachi, standing beside his deceased mother, is asked to smile for the camera, simply because he is under a contract with a toothpaste brand, is quite outstanding!). However, none of the themes stand out on their own in ‘Flop-E’ and the slack screenplay (barring the first 30 minutes or so!) makes the film a relatively tedious watch. The romantic track between ‘Rudra’ and ‘Mrittika’ is distinctly undercooked too (in keeping with the half-baked nature of practically all the other characters!) and that does not help the cause of ‘Flop-E’ either. The reason behind ‘Mrittika’ posing as ‘Riya’ on the phone while talking with ‘Rudra’ remains a mystery too, particularly since the two actually meet soon after. It is all very well to take up an innovative topic as the main storyline of a movie, but such themes need to be expertly dealt with as well. ‘Flop-E’ comes up way short of the mark on that count!

Neel Dutt, the music director of ‘Flop-E’, does a decent job in the movie. The songs are melodious and soulful and feature as some of the bright points in the film. The title track and ‘Chaand ta Jodi kineo felo’ are, in particular, distinctly hummable. The title credits are extremely stylized and have a fresh feel about them too. How one wishes that the same could have been said for the entire movie!

‘Flop-E’ is a brave attempt on the part of debutant director Pritam Sarkar to explore several novel concepts and important topical issues. However, the glaring loopholes in the storyline (sample this: ‘Mrittika’ cuts off all contacts with ‘Rudra’, solely because the latter chose to follow his heart and not attend his joint entrance counselling session!), the confused narrative, the weak screenplay and the sketchy character development lend a distinctly incomplete feel to the film. Pity really, for the basic premise of ‘Flop-E’ was interesting enough!

‘Flop-E’ has a fair few things going for it, but does not quite live up to the expectations of general cinegoers. With its release being sandwiched between the well-received ‘Nobel Chor’ and the eagerly anticipated ‘Charulata 2011’, it remains to be seen how much of headway ‘Flop-E’ manages to make at the theatres!