Starring Abir Chatterjee, Rukmini Maitra
Written & Directed by Souvik Kundu
In these turbulent traumatic times I wonder why American cinema is churning out so many horror films. They do nothing to boost our slumping morale. I’d rather watch films with a message of hope and kindness,films that leave us feeling good about life, and never mind the cheerless reality of the world outside.
Switzerland with its charming artless attitude to life and hardships reminded me of the cinema of Basu Chatterjee .The same smiling homage to the dreams and aspiration of the workingclass Indian family, the same quaint rooms with pretty fluttering curtains and the smell of omelettes wafting from the kitchen…
So little has changed since the time Amol Palekar went to Ashok Kumar to learn how to court Vidya Sinha at the bus top.Abir Chatterjee and Rukmini Maitra in Switzerland could be Pelekar and Sinha reincarnated except that they are better actors. Abir and Rukimini, I mean.Abir’s Shibu and Rukmini’s Rumi are your average workingclass couple in Kolkata struggling with loans and bills, occasaionally making a trip to her affluent in-laws’ bungalow to hear the relatives taunt him about his meager income.
The well-written family sequences are the highlights of plot which tends to lose its way when under pressure to liven up the proceedings. I could easily make out the plot points where writer-director Souvik Kundu is being asked to pump up the drama.Those compromises, you feel, sit uneasily in a plot where the hero’s integrity never dithers no matter what the provocation.
I specially liked the moment where Shibu returns the money to his distressed friend who has just returned the loan. It says so much about Shibu, much more than the words which flow in a torrent of banter and rebuke in this feelingly assembled family drama . There is also an aged lonely neighbour , played by Arun Mukherjee(the National award winning actor from Parashuram) whom Shibu and Rumi look after.
Where does Switzerland fit into all this? Nowhere, really. That’s the whole point to this endearing excursion into the heart of the proletariat tragedy. By the time the Shibus and Rumis of the workingclass-world finish paying their loans, life has passed by. As their old neighbor says, “I had the choice to buy a car or send our son abroad. Today I’ve neither the car nor the son.”
There is a gathering gloom at the end of the proletariat life that this film chooses to ignore. Who needs to be reminded of death when life is so beautiful? Switzerland or no.