Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay's 1914 Bengal is “hard work”. 1962 is rather easy. The 1960s Bengal serves Bollywood the necessary exoticism, glamorous backdrop, and all the spicy masalas for this tender love story of Parineeta to unwind and unfold. 1962 has made 1914’s Parineeta glamorous and sellable.
The photogenic Kolkata (Calcutta), ‘The Paris of the East’, the “city of chaos, kindness and class”, is at its best with wonderful panoramas of the Howrah bridge, the Victoria Memorial with paanipuri stalls, the vibrant city life, snail-paced trams, and eccentric beggars. The avant-garde females play 3-cards, wear seductive sarees, sleeveless/backless blouses, and throw provocative, coy looks at perfect strangers. Songs, songs, and more songs ... for the moulin rouge, the drunken soirée, the risqué cabaret dancer and her redder-than-red pout (1914 was kind of moronic that way). Songs, songs, and more songs ... and love happens! Arteesh hero Shekhar, is in designer-clothes, has a huge-ass piano, a guitar, a cigar, and Elvis soundtracks. The dadd-ee’s girl has a friggin' hinglish accent. Songs, songs, more songs… make the beefy, middle-aged Girish, with receding hairline, dance and prance to Bollywood tunes.
The recipe sells. The sixties does wonders for pocketing that poor rickshaw wala’s hard-earned 5 bucks. On a side note, we must agree to overlook some small shortcomings though… such as, how the famous Tagore song “phuley phuley dholey dholey” was transmogrified beyond recognition into some incongruous medley… a khichuri nobody in 1914 would’ve dared to think of. Or how the garden fountain became a tool for breaking brick walls, rather than just being boring and keeping the birds happy.
P.S. Sharat babu, I sometimes feel they would just leave you alone.