It is Monday but I still have a couple of leftovers from the weekend. With that I finished watching the new Bengali film X=Prem which is streaming on Hoichoi. It has been a while since I had last reviewed a Bengali film and this film in particular gave me a perfect opportunity. Although the film did not turn out to be a commercial success during its theatrical run, I was hearing many good things about the film. If there was some skepticism that I had, then it was with the director Srijit Mukherji who has done a lot of good work and tasted success but his last Hindi release which happened to be this weekend itself, Shabaash Mithu was not upto the mark. Having said that, I have seen enough skills in his work which gave me hope about X=Prem. So then is X=Prem, worth your time….lets find out.
Story & Screenplay
Usually I start this section with a two line synopsis of the film/series but for X=Prem, I would suggest to go into the film with as little information as possible. This is because the concept is such that it will take you by surprise and simply put, it is much more than a standard love story. If I could drop a hint, this is a rendition of the English film Eternal Sunshine Of A Spotless mind(only at the concept level and smartly used as a meta reference in the film too). The screenplay standing at just under 2 hours means that the film is taut and crisp with enough time to flesh out characters which I feel are integral to love stories.
The one thing which you instantly notice is that the film is shot in monochrome. The black and white frames give you a sense of intrigue and mystery as you get to know about a protagonist having lost his memory of 10 years. This for me was a genius idea as it did give the audience a sense of being indifferent to the surroundings. Soon you are introduced to the other protagonist and you get to know some details of their love story through a series of flashbacks.
The love story was very organic and I found myself slowly slipping into their journey. The elements of science fiction are kept bare minimal and quite simple which allow even the people with a “Non-Science” background to understand the drama at the concept level. The drama is really heartfelt with many heart touching moments. This until an interesting conflict is introduced which introduces the audience to the third dimension.
The third dimension(and I will not reveal that) felt so relatable and heartfelt that I found it to be me in it. The proceedings are emotional and they gently tug the strings of your heart only to make you teary eyed every now and then. As they say letting go of something you love is not easy and that is beautifully shown here. The drama unfolds in a way like a thriller like mentioned by one of the characters in the film as well. There was a level of uncertainty to it making me curious as to how the drama would eventually end. The climax was a good one and it really made me feel emotional. However, the drama which followed didn’t quite sit well for me. The writers decided to play it safe as opposed to giving it a negative end something which could have left a lasting impression to the viewer. There was potential for that but it wasn’t to be. But nevertheless, the screenplay is beautifully penned and a fitting tribute to Eternal Sunshine Of A Spotless Mind.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are conversational yet subtly impactful and heartfelt. The music is one of the unsung heroes of the film. It is beautiful and it really enters your soul piercing through your heart. It conveys every emotion beautifully and it deserves a playlist of its own. The BGM is subtle and never overpowers the drama. The cinematography comprise of some beautiful shots which makes the film breathtaking to watch. The art design as I did mention earlier deserves distinction marks for the monochrome approach. Director Srijit Mukherji reinstates my faith in him and beautifully so. He almost instantly finds his groove from the first scene and he never lets go of the core emotions. Instead, he keeps adding a layer of intrigue every now and then which manages to hold the attention of the viewer throughout. His direction was top notch!
The performances are wonderful here. The character are so well fleshed out here. Madhurima Basak as Aditi has a very complex role of continuing to love her husband despite knowing that he loves someone else. And she delivers a very dignified performance which otherwise could have been melodramatic as well. Anindya Sengupta as Khilaat is outstanding and he really makes an impact with his performance. Shruti Das as Joyee delivers such a heartfelt performance that you can’t help but fall in love with her character. She is so well restrained and emotes beautifully in what was a memorable outing for her. Which brings me to Arjun Chakrabarty who essays the role of Arnab. And Arnab has my heart! Perhaps the most relatable character for me, I am sure there is an Arnab(or shades of him) in so many boys. It is such a heartfelt performance that he made me teary eyed even when he wasn’t exactly emoting. The short glances and his mannerisms were on point summing up a towering performance by him.
X=Prem is an unconventionally heartfelt love story which was absolutely beautiful to witness. Available on Hoichoi and Highly Recommended!