This Friday Konkona Sen Sharma released her first directorial venture. A death in the gunj is based on Mukul Sharma's short story which itself is based on true events. Set in the late 70s, this film goes on to narrate the story of an extended family and friends on vacation in McCluskieganj.
Vikrant Massey plays the role of Shutu, a boy everyone looks down at. Shutu likes to read and values memories more than anything. His character goes on a silent transition as his emotional want increasingly becomes dependent on people around him. Little Tani is the only friend he has. She is his portal to the outside world. Shutu has deep rifts inside him which is quite evident from the decisions he makes throughout the movie. He wants to be left alone but still wants people around to accept him and be a part of their group. He is always one shout away from the screen.
Ranvir Shorey shines brightest in this heavyweight cast. He plays the perfect bully and keeps the humour alive in the movie. Gulshan Devaiya as Nandu impresses and Tillotama as Bonnie looks convincing. It is a pleasure to watch Om Puri Ji making his way through all the conversations. His constant search for things, be it another glass of rum or the cartridge for his old shotgun adds to the mundanity and the nostalgia of old age.
At 1 hour 50 minutes movie feels a bit stretched and long. The repetition in the script sticks out at some points. Shutu's character is confusing which makes it hard to empathise with him after a point. An emotionally disjoint Kalki as Mimi doesn't impress much as there is not much to her character. Konkona's direction feels smooth as the presence of the filmmaker isn't felt for the greater part of the film.
There are no pitstops in films only pitfalls and Konkona Sen Sharma quite deftly avoids falling into one. Her first feature is an impressive one. This indie is a must watch for any film lover and story seeker. Go watch the movie and show your support to the debutant director for she is telling a story which is both intriguing and tragic.