Rating: ***

Although Prosenjit Chatterjee and Rituparna Sengupta, the Uttam Kumar-Suchitra Sen of these times, are not paired together in Ajogya, they manage to steal some silent moments of bonding between them.

The tales of Covid’s devastation continue. Recently we saw Rima Das’s Assamese Tora’s Husband where a husband lost his job during the pandemic. Abhay Das(Abhijit Das), a footballer and bakery shop owner , and his wife Tora(Talari Kalita) and their two adorable children were trapped in a financial crises with feels like a bottomless pit.

Unlike Parth Saurabh’s Pokhar Ke Dunu Paar which captured Darbhanga in its pandemic with an almost frozen tone of life-halted narration as a couple’s togetherness came apart at the seams , Tora’s Husband conveys a stirring nobility in its gasping mobility.

I see none of that nobility during the pandemic Ajogyo. Director Kaushik Ganguly,known to have carved a number of odes to the Bengali middleclass, is on slippery ground this time. The two Bengali superstars Rituparna and Prosenjit are in fine form as Prosen and Parna(names instantly identifying the stars as the characters as a crowdwooing tactic), giving to their roles as a housewife compelled to seek a job after the pandemic and a mysterious do-gooder, with a layer of enigma that their characters don’t really deserve.

The idea of Prosen Mitra( there is even a Prosen-jit joke about the hero’s name) bailing out a couple from the Covid crisis, shows promise to begin with. Silajit Majumdar as Parna’s husband Raktim boozing himself to oblivion in his jobless state, is also effective.And what a beautiful surprise to see veteran Lily Chakraborty(she once played the lead in Gulzar’s Achanak) as Prosenjit’s mother.

But ultimately all these talented actors are a casualty of a grossly underwritten and muddled screenplay which after midpoint seems to be anxious to keep the characters alive. Kaushik Ganguly’s writing is so anaemic it puts the characters into an inescapable cul de sac.

Initially the storytelling is delicate and promising. The eye for detail that director Kaushik is known for is evident in Parna and Raktim’s domestic scenes: the egg curry instead of the traditional fish curry to economize, Parna sitting on the livingroom sofa close to her husband whenever Prosen visits…

Midway , Ajogyo loses the plot. The cast moves to Puri for reasons that are unclear. And more mysteriously, Prosen plots to keep the characters in the dark about each other’s presence in Puri. Sorry,but all this made no sense.

It is sad to see Prosenjit and Rituparna struggle to impart some credibility to their hazily written characters. They deserve better.There is a lovely song Tui Amar Hobi Na by Shreya Ghosal playing in background , which is worth more than all of this dehydrated drama of childhood love, revenge and atonement which seems inspired by Hemanth Rao’s haunting Kannada Film Sapta Sagaradaache Ello (Side B), minus the sensitivity.