Cast: Monalisa Chatterjee, Senjutiroy Mukherjee
Best Debut Film, 2018 International Film Festival of Kerala
The ordinary magic of walking and talking never fails to charm in the movies. In the case of MANOHAR & I, Amitabha Chaterji’s graceful debut, a young office worker and older gentleman of vastly different generations find communion in their commute – walking as slowly as possible to prolong the talking. Adapted from a Kannada short story, this is the romance of friendship unfolding daily through imagining, remembering, wondering. Playful banter and sleights of hand to keep their musings on safe ground. Conversations that transform the speaker and the listener, as two humble people find solace in that brief moment between work and home. Although home might be a different matter altogether, as a series of electric scenes reveal a young woman orbiting around a bitter and unstable sister, and Manohar’s world quietly deflating upon arrival.
Shot (at times on a smartphone) in ebony black, bleached whites, and everything in between, this is a refreshingly crisp and storied Calcutta, reminding us that MANOHAR & I is as much about a pace as it is about a place. Meandering trolley rides and busy sidewalks showcase unforgettable performances by stage actors Monalisa Chatterjee, whose bemused smile and enormous eyes silently collaborate with Shyamal Chakraborty’s genteel bard. And, after an unexpected death makes us wonder how far we’ve wandered, Chaterji has us realize that wondering is what matters the most after all.