Desperately trying to appear profounder, deeper, subtler, darker, edgier and disturbing than it actually is, director Sudipto Chattopadhyay’s movie Pankh is an abstract, delirious flight into the psyche of a man less ordinary.
The story revolves around a 21-year-old guy named Jerry (Maradona Rebello) who used to be a child actor named Baby Kusum. As a kid he was forced by his ambitious mother (Lilette Dubey) to play girl roles and grew up to be a psychologically scarred young man confused about his sexual identity. On top of it he has to live with constant taunts and sexual exploitation from people he comes in touch with.
He withdraws from the world and spends time talking with his pet turtles or his fantasy woman Nandini (Bipasha Basu) who appears before him in the most outlandish outfits. Is there a way out of this psychological mess for Jerry or is he doomed to lunacy and delusion.
Sanjay Gupta being the producer, it’s a given that ‘Pankh’ will try to overwhelm its viewer by dint of its visual appeal. So we have imaginatively cinematographed shots, in different hues, tones and colours. The background score is jarring at times, and the screenplay ranges from bring sheer weird to brazenly bizarre. There seems to be an overt attempt on the part of director Sudipto Chattopadhyay to hurl everything revolting at the audiences. There’s sodomy, homosexuality, sleaze, sexual violence, et al. But what isn’t there is a good, tight, gripping, cohesive script that keeps you riveted to the screen. In that sense, ‘Pankh’ does end up as an arty film with the pretension of profundity.
There’s hardly anything to write about performances. Maradona’s rawness suits his character well but Bipasha disappoints big time. Her dialogue delivery and her facial expressions have a range too narrow for her character. However, her laughable costumes and overdone make-up do add some humour to the film.