Tryst With Destiny(SonyLIV) 4 Episodes
Fair & Fine: Ashish Vidyarthi, Suhasini Mani Ratnam, Victor Banerjee, Lillete Dubey, Ishwak Singh
The River: Vineet Kumar Singh, Kani Kusruti
One BHK: Jaideep Ahlawat, Palomi Ghosh
A Beast Within: Geetanjali Thapa, Amit Sial
Written & Directed by Prashant Nair
There is a wealth of talent involved in this tall if a little wobbly 4-storey anthology that tells us…what does it tell us? That nothing has changed? We are still at the same place where Pandit Nehru left us when he made that ‘tryst with destiny’ speech in 1947?
Mindsets have certainly not evolved. Luckily cinema has. At least some of it has. Prashant Nair who made that interesting film on migration Umrika in 2015 puts together a sorry perspective of life at the grassroots.Or even for the upwardly mobile.
In the first story the brilliant Ashish Vidyarthi plays a tycoon who, when insulted for his skin colour, decides to get himself a fair-skinned son-in-law at any cost , by hook or by crook. A savagely tragi-comic view on societal prejudice, the story left me feeling bitter for wasting talented actors like Lilette Dubey, Victor Bannerjee , Suhasini Mani Ratnam and Ishwak Singh who have little to do while Vidyarthi takes glorious centrstage.He compensates for the poor use of supporting talent.
The second story The River is my favourite. It’s haunting in its silences, searing in its indictment of socio-economic discrimination. The grossly underrated Vineet Kumar is a silently imploding underdog whose tortured faces conveys more angst in one frame that Varun Dhawan did in the whole of Badlapur. Vineet and his screen-wife Kani Kusruti reminded me of Om Puri and Smita Patil in Govind Nihalani’s Aakrosh. And that’s saying a lot.
Jaideep Ahlawat is fabulous as a havildar going to the dogs in 1 BHK. The story is very Brian de Palma in mood. Attractive seductive wife(Paloma Ghosh) is instrumental in driving her cop husband into a life of criminal wrongdoing. The story secretes considerable pent-up anger.And who better at manifesting it than Ahlawat? There is an atmospherically rich restaurant sequence between husband and wife throbbing with tension. When the poor waiter gets the brunt of it, we know life for the underdog always sucks.No matter what the menu.
My least favourite story is the last ,A Beast Within.Though the shortest it is a largely unintelligible narrative ,with the neglected Geetanjali Thapa , playing some kind of a conservationist battling to get a tiger to safety as villager Amit Sial(powerful but ineffective , for no fault of the actor). Realizing the point doesn’t get across , director Prashant Nair adds a footnote: a tv announcement on what we just saw.
The oddly staccato title notwithstanding Tryst With Destiny is an evocative though uneven portrait of fey socio-political mores in a rapidly-changing society.I like the smooth little touches connecting the four stories: a peacock lost on the road, a tiger on the prowl, a hoarding for a fairness cream….Some of the plot points, specially in the fourth story lack fluency. But the performances take care of the rough edges.
The real hero of the anthology is cinematographer Avinash Arun whose visuals are poetry in motion, even while composing the collateral of guilt and capturing the despair of squalor.