WBRi Movie Review - Hemlock Society (2012): De-Glam Koel Shines in Srijit Mukherji's 3rd Bangla Film

Bengali Film Actors Koel Mullick and Parambrata Chatterjee at Premiere of Hemlock Society (Bangla, 2012) Movie
Koel & Param at the premiere at INOX on Elgin Road, Kolkata

Kolkata, India, June 23, 2012 (Washington bangle Radio / Penning Creations) Srijit Mukherji returned with his 3rd Bengali feature film, the intriguingly titled Hemlock Society (Bengali, 2012), that opened in theaters yesterday after a couple of launch and premiere events where Tollywood glitterati showered their affection and support on the young director who threw open the doors into resurgence of Bengali cinema. Expectations were humongous from this Parambrata Chatterjee - Koel Mullick starrer. As it turns out, Srijit Mukherji does not let down and Hemlock Society is a winner all the way.

The movie relates the tale of one Meghna Sarkar (Koel Mullick), a PYT having a harrowing time of late, having had a distressing break-up with her long-standing fiancé and also being in danger of losing her job. Adding to Meghna's precarious position is an emotional trial with her stepmom Niharika (Roopa Ganguly). The bonding between the young lady and her father Chittaranjan (Dipankar De) is also at a low ebb. Circumstances drive Meghna to a point where she feels that she has no choice but to commit suicide. Taking her own life does not prove to be a straightforward task though for our leading lady!

Parambrata Chatterjee & Koel Mullick on Hemlock Society (Bengali, 2012) at the film's premiere in Kolkata

In a chance encounter, Meghna meets the suave and smooth-talking Ananda Kar (Parambrata Chatterjee). The latter runs an institution called Hemlock Society, where willing students are taught correct, foolproof methods of committing suicide. Ananda coaxes Meghna into joining the society, where the latter meets up with a motley bunch of suicide teachers (Sabyasachi Chakrabarty, Bratya Basu, Raj Chakraborty and Barun Chanda in fantastic cameos). The ever-high spirits of the happy-go-lucky Ananda makes Meghna gradually fall for the former. She also realizes that her reasons to flee from life are way too trivial, when compared to the distresses of some of her fellow members of Hemlock Society. Will Meghna be finally able to come out of her gloom? Is there are a future to the Ananda-Meghna romance? There’s an unexpected, and brilliant, twist in the end. Watch it-and discover the answers for yourself!

Not only does Srijit show great vision and boldness to select an entirely novel basic premise for the movie, but he also displays considerable technical acumen to make the film thoroughly enjoyable. Not an iota of morbidity seeps in any portion of Hemlock Society – quite an achievement for a romantic film on the backdrop of a suicide organization. The way in which Srijit Mukherji has lent a light, comical feel to the otherwise serious movie is truly commendable.

Srijit Mukherji’s films generally tend to bring out the best from their actors, and Hemlock Society is no exception either. Parambrata Chatterjee is first-rate as the breezy Ananda, who has a terrible secret of his own. Param’s delightful performance is further complimented by the jerky camera angles (credits to cinematographer Soumik Haldar there) and witty one-liners (dialogs by the director himself).

Koel Mullick delivers a performance that is more than adequate in Hemlock Society. The actress appears in a totally de-glam, bespectacled avatar and pitches in with a powerful portrayal of a girl pushed to the limits by unfortunate going-ons around her. She shows flashes of brilliance and easily could have been spectacular all through. The understated chemistry between Koel and Parambrata also shines through in the movie. The angst-filled shrieks of Meghna would remain etched in moviegoers’ hearts for a long time.

Rupa Ganguly does a good job as the sensitive, yet thoroughly misunderstood Niharika. Dipankar De is unexpectedly stellar in the short screen time. Guest appearances by several well-known stars are a real surprise package of Hemlock Society. Priyanka, as the traumatized Hiya, stands out in this list of cameos. Soumitra Chatterjee, as the disabled colonel, is slightly over-the-top though.

Music director Anupam Roy excels once again in Hemlock Society. All the songs are situational and the delightfully commonplace lyrics (by Roy himself) make them all the more pleasant to the ear. ‘Amar Mawte’, which comes right with the closing credits of Hemlock Society, is probably the pick of the lot.

If one were to really find flaws in Hemlock Society, it can be said that the final half hour of the movie tends to drag a bit. However, the overall film is so good that viewers would not really mind its slightly extra flab.

Plot, directorial excellence, strong performances and technical nuances – all these combine to make a successful film. Hemlock Society has all of the above qualities in generous measure, and then some more!