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Wednesday, 22 July 2015

# 11 - Movie Review - Ahalya

Cast: Soumitra Chatterjee, Radhika Apte, Tota Roychowdhury
Directed by: Sujoy Ghosh

A policeman visits an aged acclaimed artist's home to investigate a matter. But something doesn't exactly seem right.


Highly suggested that you watch the movie first, go ahead, just 14 minutes.

Done? Okay let's get to it.

First things first, there's enough brouhaha about the name of this movie, this is a modern retelling of the mythological tale of Ahalya/feminist twist to the classic tale etc. etc.

Bull****, yes it is. The names of the characters suggest that! But that doesn't give an additional dimension to the movie, nor is it of any particular consequence. Let's get over the dissection of the title and the possible connotations and implications! 

I doubt the makers themselves ever in their wildest dreams imagined that the public at large would tear up their hair discussing the movie title. Not that they would complain either. Do you, dear reader, ever wonder why Salman Khan's character in Dabangg was called Chulbul Pandey? Do you wake up in the middle of the night wondering the etymology behind Chulbul ? You don't ? Enough said.

Short films can be a very interesting and exciting medium, so far none of the big screen releases of compilations have really worked (Darna Mana Hai, Darna Zaroori Hai, Bombay Talkies etc.) but the success of Ahalya shows that maybe there's hope in the future (more than 7 lakh views on youtube in 2 days).

Back to the movie. 

More than just inspired by a story of Satyajit Ray (Professor Shonku o aschorjo Putul), and allegedly a spanish movie as well, the least the director could have done was acknowledge the source material. Barring that, Mr. Sujoy Ghosh doesn't give the viewer any reason to express grumble.

The script is tight, it had to be, every second of this movie is necessary. The viewer steps in to the shoes of the cop who has come to visit the veteran artist at his home for an investigation of a missing person, (played competently by Tota Roychowdhury) and what he expects to be a routine affair, turns out to be anything but that.

Inspired casting in the form of Soumitra Chatterjee (brilliant as usual) and Radhika Apte (she is suddenly everywhere these days, and for good reason, getting better and prettier with each movie) definitely lifts the movie.

The director leaves enough clues for the viewer to arrive at the possible ending, but that doesn't take anything away from the movie. He teases the viewer much like Ahalya, the titular character teases the cop. The viewer remains confused whether Ahalya is a seductress or a faithful wife till the very end. Likewise for Gautam Sadhu (Soumitra), is he really as harmless as he appears to be?

It's good to see a non bengali actor playing a bengali and getting most pronunciations right, Radhika Apte makes up for the horrible "Issh"es and "Sotti"s of Aishwarya Rai (Devdas, 2002). 

Finally, Ahalya is a good movie that should help its genre of films in India, and finally here's a director who's decided to get better with time after showing initial promise, instead of succumbing to Bollywood-dom  (Anurag Kashyap, Dibakar Banerjee, and Imtiaz Ali, please take note).

But seriously, Satyajit Ray deserved a mention in the credits.  


  1. I second that (credit to Satyajit Ray) and even though I enjoyed as much as you did, I still couldn't digest the fact that the basic plot is stolen from Prof. Shanku.

    Well I guess all the people who read the book surely felt the same. :)

    Excellent review.