The problem with Bengalis at Pujo time (defined as 60 days pre and maybe 30 days post!) is that they become overcome with benign goodness and heap copious amounts of praise on things not very praiseworthy. We probashi Bengalis (beleaguered ones staying away from our home state) are even worse since anything remotely Bengal/Calcutta puts us into throes of nostalgic rapture. Starved of Bengali films in Bombay, we try and watch most of what is released. Projapoti Biskut (Butterfly Biscuit) referred as PB hereafter is one such creation.
Antar (Aditya Sengupta) and Saon (Ishaa Saha) are a young couple married for almost two and half years. Living in a joint family with Antar’s parents, elder brother, sister in law and little niece, Saon is stifled. Her mother in law rules the roost with an iron fist, never letting Saon forget her humble roots and lamenting her own misjudgement allowing such a girl to marry her darling younger son. Saon tries to fit in by giving up a lot of herself including her original name Sraboni; hides the fact that she scripts tv soaps her MIL abhors and FIL loves; tries to be the dutiful DIL but does not make much headway. The one thing that can possibly redeem Saon is pregnancy, a task at which she has not been successful so far.
Saon’s family includes her garrulous parents and a younger sister. Her best friend Parijat is a stereotypical media professional, clad in bohemian ethnic fashion, wielding cigarettes and relationships with equal ease. Saon writes scripts for Pari and listens to stories about her eventful single life.
Director Anindya Chatterjee does a good job of establishing some of the characters. Antar’s pompous mother (superior!) and father who has to hide his love for mishti and tv soaps from his overbearing wife are great to watch. As is his biryani eating, always-ready-with-advise boss (the ever brilliant Rajatava Datta) and the owner of the local sweet shop. Antar’s brother and SIL are cardboard figures put in for no identifiable reason. The little niece holds her own as do Saon’s parents and Pari in most part. Antar as the goofy, fumbling, indecisive young man and Saon as the sweet, simple, eager to please young DIL are rather likeable…till the plot starts unravelling faster than a ball of wool attacked by playful kittens!
The script starts off frothy and fun but goes awry halfway through. Endless doctor/hospital sequences; Saon’s continuous moping and references to Antar’s ex girlfriend; Pari’s track which becomes stupidly melodramatic before coming to a grinding halt; the asinine attempt to trivialize a therapy session; unnecessary tearjerkers and drama; ridiculously long monologues; situations defying logic and too many loose ends indicating lack of craft make the last hour irritating.
Performances range from below mediocre to excellent. Unfortunately the main characters never reach the latter. But the newcomers Aditya and Ishaa show promise and can shine on a steadier platform.
The songs while very melodious and enjoyable in the beginning, drag PB much longer than necessary. It is nice to watch montages while listening to one song, but by number 3, my patience wears thin and I wish for a fast forward button.
The scriptwriter and director try to capture the entire range of human emotions and lose the plot en route. Thus PB which starts off as a crisp sugar sprinkled biskut becomes an overcooked jogakhichuri (my knowledge of the English language does not extend far enough to translate this!) by the end.
Copyright © Taraa Vermaa Senguptaa September 2017
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