Film: III Smoking Barrels: Stories From Far East India
Cast: Indraneil Sengupta, Shiny Gogoi, Mandakini Goswami, Siddharth Boro, Disha Thakur, Bijou Thaangjaam, Niloy Sankar Gupta, Vikram Gogoi, Subrat Dutta, Amrita Chattopadhyay, Nalneesh Neel, Rajni Basumatary
Director: Sanjib Dey
Rating: * * * ½
Director Sanjib Dey’s debut feature, an anthology of three stories from Far East India, explores different stages of human life with specific reference to issues that plague the region. The first story titled Child pursues a kidnapped insurgent trainee, 14-year-old Janice (Shiny Gogoi) who seeks refuge in a vehicle driven by an engineer Anuraag Dutta (Indraneil Sengupta) who is on his way to Guwahati. The heightened, strangely shrill aggro displayed by the young pre-teen and the unnatural sounding, repetitive use of slang despite the Engineer’s unthreatening demeanour signify this assay as the least accomplished of the trio of representations.
The second story titled Boy, is about an aimless, directionless engineering drop out Donnie (Siddharth Boro) who seeks the solace of drugs while making peddling his business – having to deal with a widowed, ailing, pained mother (Mandakini Goswami) who has repetitive dreams (of the ‘Inception’ type) about her son escaping the rut he is in. The story has a karmic twist and the performances and treatment are so lifelike that it’s completely compelling.
The third story titled Adult, detailing a Bangladeshi immigrant Mukhtar’s (Subrat Dutta) descent into hell due to extreme poverty is the priceless gem in this anthology – mainly because the storytelling craft and the power of the performances are so strong that you feel intensely engaged by the display. Amrita Chattopadhyay as his disgruntled, pregnant wife Morjina and Nalneesh Neel as the speech impaired Ikram enshrine this short with their skillful presence. This anthology throws light on the little-known regions and languages of India with superb aplomb!