movie review: Amu

There aren’t too many words to describe Shonali Bose's first attempt at being a producer, but powerful, insightful and moving are all quite accurate. 'Amu' is an English-Hindi-Bengali polyglot film, with the protagonist 'Kaju' (Konkana Sen in an earthy, dusky avatar ) coming back to India to search for her roots. Adopted by her single mother Keya, Kaju has lived in LA since she was three, protected and sheltered from a past long forgotten. As history catches up with her, Kaju stumbles unsuspectingly on dark secrets, skeletons lovingly hidden by her adoptive family; Kaju has to face the truth of the past, the truth of the 1984 riots in which over 5000 Sikhs died.

The movie paces itself well, but the more action and thrills-inclined may find the understated drama and slow buildup a little tedious. The romantically inclined may not appreciate the minimal detailing of the affection between Kabir and Kaju. In a bold move, the film leaves these done-to-death issues sketchy, yet poignant, while concentrating on Kaju's search into her own history among the carnage of 1984. The police apathy, the political intrigue, the subsequent cover-up, all these are detailed in hard-hitting scenes and dialogue, shaking our apathetic minds into an outraged cry of "How could this be allowed to happen?" The censor board was incensed enough to force five dialogue cuts, supposedly politically incendiary comments.

Konkana Sen's performance is absolutely spellbinding, with her rendition of the bubbly young American desi coming back to find her roots appearing not only completely believable, but also highly endearing. She shimmers through the film effortlessly taking you through the emotions of a young girl coming to terms with a horrible past. Ankur Khanna as Kabir plays the angsty young man with a tender heart quite well. In fact, I cant remember a single wooden performance in this splendidly directed film, and the cinematography is crisp and fresh. The language is refreshing, flowing from English to Hindi to subtitled Bengali. I have always loved Bengali, never found a language so completely endearing, and this was a linguistic feast for me.

Amu is not advertised much, and isn’t playing at many theatres. It depends on word of mouth to survive. I don’t know how long this strangely honest movie will last among the bare-all, say-nothing offerings dominating mainstream cinema; it would be wise to catch it asap. This is one movie worth seeing on the big screen, and its definitely one you don’t want to miss.


At 1:38 AM, Anonymous nitin said...

wish had seen this review earlier. missed the movie on the big screen...
trying to get hold of the vcd at least...

keep up ur reviews!


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