The Film: Calcutta Mail
Director: Subhir Mirsha
Music: Anand Raaj Anand
Lyrics: Javed Akhtar
Producer: Allu Arvind, Mukesh Udeshi
Starring: Anil Kapoor, Rani Mukherjee
Siri Media Arts. Calcutta Mail is the story of a young man in search of his little child. Set against the backdrop of the goonda raj in Bihar, the film starts with the man, Avinash (Anil Kapoor), arriving in Calcutta (from Patna) to track down his son and his father-in-law.s goon who had kidnapped the child. In Calcutta, he shares a chawl room with a beautiful and young girl who is a writer (Rani Mukerji). A good part of the first half is devoted to establishing how the young man and the writer-girl come close to each other and his stay and interactions in the chawl.
The real story unfolds only when the flashback starts, taking the audience into Avinash.s past. It is revealed that Avinash had got married to a girl whom he had rescued in a train, from the dangerous goons sent by her politician-father, one of whom he had wanted her to get married to. The daughter had been on the run and Avinash had not only saved her but had also taken her as his wife and the two had even had a son from the marriage. The politician-father had struck back after five years and had killed his own daughter for disobeying him.
His goon, meanwhile, had picked up the couple.s 4-year-old child and had run away with him. When Avinash had learnt of his son.s whereabouts, he had come in search of him. Back to the present, Avinash succeeds in tracing the goon and his own son. His father-in-law stands exposed in front of Avinash who then pays ransom money to the goon to free his son from his clutches. The goon then shoots his boss (the father-in-law) and his assistant. He himself is gunned down thereafter by the police.
Why the goon kidnaps the child is not clear. Similarly, what is the charm in exposing the father-in-law in front of the son-in-law is not revealed. Also not clear is why the politician-father wants to marry off his daughter to an uneducated and uncouth goon of his. What.s worse, he wonders after he has blundered (by knowingly killing his own daughter) as to why his daughter had not told him that the goon was a mismatch for her. Why? Didn.t he know that the goon was evil?
The major part of the first half moves at a snail.s pace and the real drama begins once the flashback starts. However, not too many incidents impress the viewer as the film starts emerging as a routine revenge drama. The emotional appeal of the story is minimal. Avinash.s relationship with the writer further dilutes the already low emotional impact of the film. Action scenes in the train and otherwise have been well shot but frankly, the thrill that can engage the viewers is almost completely missing. Climax is tame. Like the ordinary screenplay, the film.s dialogue are also not very impressive.
Anil Kapoor puts in a sincere performance as always, in the role of a father in search of his tiny son. However, despite that, the weak scripting fails to evoke sympathy for the characters in the film. Rani Mukerji tries to entertain with her light scenes but doesn.t succeed too much. Once again, it is the script which is to blame. Manisha Koirala does a fair job.
Sayaji Shinde plays the father-in-law.s favourite goon (prospective son-in-law) effectively. Satish Kaushik, as the wily politician-cum-businessman and Anil Kapoor.s father-in-law, is efficient. Shivaji Satam, Saurabh Shukla and the others lend average support.
Director Sudhir Mishra, saddled with a half-baked script, fails to make the film an engrossing, engaging, arresting drama. It must, however, be added that his scenes shot in the streets of Calcutta and on the railway platform are excellent. Music is a letdown. Cinematography is excellent. Other technical values are upto the mark. Action is very good.
On the whole, Calcutta Mail remains a dry drama devoid of thrill and emotions. Having arrived at the cinemas way behind schedule, this .late train. will not even be able to chug its way to the next platform and will see a lot of red signals on the way to the finishing point. At the box-office, its fate will be poor. Business would be slightly better in cities like Bombay.