Onto the final release of the weekend and I have finished watching the new Hindi Film Cobalt Blue streaming on Netflix. The film was originally slated to release in December but due to reasons unknown, the OTT giant had postponed its release. But the film is finally out with absolutely no publicity which is a pity to be honest as its trailer seemed interesting and similar to the film Call Me By Your Name. In fact to prepare for its earlier release in December, I had watched and reviewed Call Me By Your Name which is streaming on Netflix. It was a tender coming of age story of self discovery even in terms of sexuality. And I did expect a similar sort of magic from Cobalt Blue. That said, is Cobalt Blue worth your time, stay tuned.
Story & Screenplay
Based on a novel by Sachin Kundalkar(who is also the director here), Cobalt Blue is a coming of age story of a brother and a sister, both of who fall in love with the same guy. Now if this was mainstream Bollywood, the gaze would be totally different. Homosexuality as a subject is still not accepted in our society with open arms. This kind of has rubbed on to Bollywood where over the years, a homosexual character was just introduced in the narrative almost like a comic relief, misrepresenting the community as being caricaturish and against nature. Over the years, we all have been guilty of applauding these stereotypes in Bollywood where the characters are introduced with a comic background score everytime they are onscreen. Thankfully, some of the new age filmmakers have began a journey in atleast representing members of the LGBTQ community in an appropriate manner. Be it Badhaai Do at the start of the year or now Cobalt Blue, times are changing and this is a welcome relief.
The story here may match the premise of Call Me By Your Name but the trajectory and treatment is totally different. The sensitivity with which the story unfolds almost nonchalantly which sooths every nerve on your body. The screenplay is beautifully poetic and soothing to the eye. Firstly the film is set in parts of Kerala which itself is so scenic and beautiful and it made me reminesce my last Kerala trip. One of the strongest aspect of the screenplay is the way the characters are fleshed out. Right from the very beginning, you are introduced to the protagonist and you instantly start observing his character traits. The leisurely paced screenplay allows you time to invest in characters which are a part of a beautifully flawed world. Things take a turn with the introduction of the paying guest and this is where the protagonist begins his quest of self discovery.
Along the way, the emotions are beautifully captured through poetry and this bit resonated with me the most. Besides writing reviews, I do write musings and poetry too and that is one form of escapism from the world where we are trapped in, like it is for the protagonist. On the other hand, his sister is battling her own demons. She has an identity of her own and there are two scenes which depict her beautifully – the one involving her periods and the other a scene involving her showing off her unwaxed armpits. These give a clear idea about her personality of her living for herself and not for the world.
Together the two fall for the same guy and this is all a part of their own journeys which they realise later on. Heartbreaks are hard but with it comes the strength to fight on too. As the sister says, “Love Makes You Stronger”. A simple line which again resonated with me so much. This then culminates into a poetic yet philosophical final act which was beautifully portrayed with a lovely metaphor. What a beautifully woven screenplay this!
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are simple yet poignant and philosophical. There are no loud emotions in play, yet their subtlety is beautifully portrayed through tender poetry and simple lines which leave a lasting impact. The BGM beautifully blends into the drama and is instantly likable. The cinematography beautifully captures the locales of Kerala in the most breathtaking fashion along with shades of blue. Also some of the love making scenes are shot aesthetically. Director Sachin Kundalkar has handled a delicate subject with utmost ease. His direction brilliance lies in the quieter moments which he really maintains a grip on right throughout. Excellent!
The performances are exquisite here. Anant V Joshi as Aseem has his moments to shine and he does a pretty good job. There is a reason I am a fan of Shishir Sharma who plays the father here. I am a student of cinema first before a reviewer and I love to study the performances(along with the other aspects ofcourse). And there is a takeway from his performance every single time. Here it is such a well measured performance where you can’t label him with any particular colour which talks about his craft. Geetanjali Kulkarni is herself a fine actor and I am the happiest that she is getting such meaningful roles. As Sharda, the mothef oblivious to facts, she is quite brilliant and like Shishir sir I like to absorb the characters which she essays too. Neil Bhoopalam is a highly underrated actor and as the literature teacher he just pours his heart out here, almost bottling up so many emotions. He is simply brilliant. Poornima Indrajith as the Nun is wonderfully restrained and both Neil and Poornima deserve a spin off stories of their own. She excels in quieter moments portraying the trauma that she may have been through. Anjali Sivaraman as Anuja has such expressive eyes and she makes full use of them. Her character had layers to it and she was able to bring a lot of emotions in play here. Prateik Babbar as the paying guest(smartly unnamed) is a revelation. I have come to the conclusion that these roles suit him better and bring out the best in him. He is better off away from the regular Hindi films, and he could carve a niche for himself in these sort of roles which aren’t mainstream. Dr. Neelay Mehendale as Tanay is a character who may be calm from the outside but is going through a surge of emotions internally. And it is a character which so many would be able to resonate with. He is simply phenomenal here.
Cobalt Blue is beautifully poetic, meditative philosophical and soothing. It is a pity that Netflix did not promote it enough which is why I am giving an extra half star to encourage people to watch and support this underrated gem. Available on Netflix and Highly Highly Recommended.