There’s a general perception about festival films! They are ‘boring’. But the trailer and storyline of A Death in the Gunj promised otherwise. The film, that also marks the directorial debut of Konkona Sen Sharma, brings together a stellar star cast to tell a story of a family on a vacation. The film first opened to the audience at films fests like the Toronto International Film Festival 2016, Busan International Film Festival 2016 and the Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival 2016 – all to rave reviews. The film is a thriller and the genre gets trickier complemented by the challenge of keeping you engaged throughout the reel without letting you in on the climax. Does Sharma’s debut attempt successfully manage to do so? Find out in the review below…Also Read - Sunny Movie Review: True Story of Distress Amid Pandemic But It's Too Soon to Relive it!
What’s it about?
A Death in the Gunj follows a week in the life of a family that’s on a vacation to McCluskiegunj in Jharkhand (now Bihar). Set in 1979, it takes us to the quaint abode of OP Bakshi (Om Puri) and Anupama (Tanuja) where the younger lot of the family camp for a Christmas holiday. Nandu (Gulshan Devaiah), wife Bonnie (Tillotama Shome), daughter Tani (Arya Sharmav) and their cousin Shutu (Vikrant Massey) are joined by Bonnie’s friend Mimi (Kalki Koechlin) and Nandu’s buddies Vikram (Ranvir Shorey) and Brian (Jim Sarbh). The dynamics between the characters start to unfold on the screen and the plot leads you to a death. ALSO READ: Konkona’s ‘A Death In The Gunj’ to release on June 2 Also Read - Maestro Movie Review: Nithiin and Tamannaah Fails To Match Ayushmaan Khurrana, Tabu and Radhika Apte's Andhadhun
Having worked both in commercial as well as parallel cinema, Konkona Sen Sharma brings the best of both worlds in her directorial debut. It is a festival film and arty as well and at the same time has all the elements to keep audience from different sensibilities entertained and engaged. The various characters in the story will instantly hit a chord with their relationship dynamics making them relatable. Performances by Vikrant Massey and Ranvir Shorey deserve an applause. While the former makes you fall in love and empathise with his simple Shutu, the latter makes you loathe his Vikram for being so cruel, insensitive, disloyal and in your face. ALSO READ: ‘A Death in the Gunj’ premieres at 18th Mumbai Film Fest Also Read - Pavitra Rishta 2.0 Review: Love Conquers All And so Does Archana And Manav's Chemistry!
The film has its happy, sad and tragic moments and the screentime that each character has been given, helps you go through each of those various emotions along with the actors onscreen. The review would not be complete without the mention of an aesthetically shot sex scene between Kalki’s Mimi and Vikrant’s Shutu. Lust is at work here and Konkona knows how to give you the perfect tease with her flawless camerawork.
Special mention for the cinematography and background music that give the film the haunting, eerie feeling throughout.
The film is just 107 minutes long, that’s very short compared to most Bollywood sagas and yet there were moments that made it seem draggy. Kalki seemed underused and we didn’t get to see any real emotional exchange between Shutu and his mother. Also, we don’t get to know the why and how of Shutu going from a brilliant student to a 23-year-old with image issues.
What to do?
Watch the slice of life film to break from the mundane as it takes you back in time and to witness some brilliant performances.
India.com Verdict: 3.5 stars
Watch the official trailer of A Death in the Gunj below