Thank God It Is Friday and probably the first weekend of the year that has a plethora of releases in store for me. So once again with a deep breath, I am all game! And the new year 2024 brings with it the first of the many anthologies and with that, I finished watching the new Hindi Anthology film Lantrani which is now streaming on Zee5. Anthologies have always been a hit and a miss kind of a genre, particularly because not all shorts land in a film. Having said that, there are always a few standouts which are discussed by everyone even as most others are forgotten. The perception of the theme by the filmmakers while relying on their craft to effectively communicate its message is what truly hits the sweet spot as far as anthologies are concerned. Another searing point of discussion is the number of shorts packed in a single film. There have been 4 each in the Lust Stories and Ghost Stories franchise while almost 9 in the Tamil anthology Navarasa. But here with Lantrani, Zee5 has indeed hit a sweet spot with just 3 shorts which are palatable and easy to track. Anything more than 3 just adds to the crowd while increasing chances of losing some of the shorts in oblivion. But more importantly, does Lantrani manage to impress, let’s find out in our standard anthology format.
Hud Hud Dabangg
A story of an aged police officer on the cusp of his retirement who is asked to bring a supposedly ‘dangerous’ convict to the court until the two share an unlikely bond ending in a tragedy. The story here uses a tone of comedy to begin with, highlighting the plight of the cops in smaller districts and establishing an unlikely bond between the cop and the convict duo. But there is a tonal shift of the mood in the final act when the viewers truly get to know the ‘crime’ that the convict is charged for, something that is heartbreaking and resentful while continuing to be a relevant topic of discussion. My little issue with the screenplay was that it was simplistic whereas it could have been a little more nuanced and complex with the subject that it wished to tackle. I also did feel that while the focus on the bonding of the duo was fine and much needed in the context of the drama, it could have been spread across the court case perhaps even in a non-linear fashion. This is solely for the intention of allowing viewers a little more time to invest in the atrocities of the judicial system towards the convict as opposed to suddenly shifting gears. But the screenplay is still decently well penned. The dialogues and the subtle BGM contribute well to the mood of the drama. Director Kaushik Ganguly does a good job in creating situations that establish the bond between the duo pretty well. But the performances of Johny Lever and Jisshu Sengupta that truly elevate the sincere drama to safety. Both are such prolific performers who did feed off energies with each other thereby resonating their personalities with the viewers. This short makes for an earnest watch.
Dharna Mana Hai
A story of a couple who decide to go on a ‘mute’ strike against the authorities who have been constantly delaying the opening of their joint account in a bank. The story here is relevant but I had a similar issue of it being simplistic as opposed to being a little more complex and layered with its narration. The screenplay here gets the satire of the subject spot on while exposing the shortcomings of the system. But, the situations created along the way could have been a little more interesting given its setting. Yes, the tone of a satirical comedy was nicely utilized but I did feel that the writing went around a little in circles whereas a little emphasis could have been given to the relationship that the couple shared who were willing to stick with each other through thick and thin. What the screenplay did well in was highlight the atrocities faced by the couple also with respect to the people around them. Overall, the screenplay here is decently well penned. The dialogues were a limitation given that the lead couple were on a ‘mute’ strike but despite that the impact with respect to the lines was there. The BGM blends well with the mood of the drama. Director Gurvinder Singh does a steady job in staying true to the tone of the drama. But it is again Nimisha Sajayan and Jitendra Kumar who are excellent with such a stellar screen presence. Both manage to convey their pain even with their restrictions of portraying ‘mute’ characters and come out with flying colours. This is another earnest short that is very watchable.
The pick of the shorts for me was the final one, a story of a news channel grappling with the woes of the pandemic wherein they get an opportunity to ‘promote’ an Anti-Corona brand while their lead anchor has tested positive for Corona Virus. The pandemic is the time that we have all gone through a lot but what it did was expose the entire circus that did take place across all news channels wherein most channels started promoting products that till today have no real proof in overcoming corona. This was quite the expose that was presented in a hilarious little satire that was the favourite from the lot. The screenplay captured the wild antics of the news channel who would go to any limit to ‘serve’ their ‘clients’ even if it meant faking a negative certificate for their lead anchor who was actually positive for Corona. With the entire episode being reduced to a circus and news anchors being NSD and FTII pass outs, this one guaranteed a hilarious ride. My only little complaint was the abrupt ending(and I totally did get what was trying to be conveyed) that slightly stalled the tone of the drama instead of ending it in the same breath of euphoria and madness. But the screenplay here was a winner all the way. The dialogues are candid and funny, the BGM is good too. Director Bhaskar Hazarika(you may know him from the phenomenal film Aamis) is yet again in top form while seldom losing the tone of the drama. The performances by Boloram Das, Aditya Pandey and the others are outstanding and collectively all actors get the pitch of their performances spot on. This short falls in the category of a must watch!
Lantrani is a sincere anthology exploring the different shades of satire thereby making it a decent watch. Available on Zee5.