It isn’t everyday that you come across a film like Hemlock Society. A film that deals with trauma and yet is able to keep a smirk on your face all the way through. There wasn’t a single scene in the movie apart from the initial startup which would not give you a sense of novelty. We have every director these days claiming their movie to be “hatke” and different when the fact of the matter is we are being served the same wine again and again without even the slightest care of putting it in at least a new box. At a time like this, we have a film like Hemlock society which is not only different in content but also treatment.
Meghna(Koel Mallick) is down and out after she finds her boyfriend cheating. Her relationship of many years crumbles within a few minutes. The matter is made further worse with her loosing her job and he bitter relationship with her father who has married someone else after her mother’s death. Desperate and disgruntled Meghna contemplates suicide. As she is about to gulp some sleeping pills, she is intruded upon by a strange man who calls himself Ananda Kar(Parambrata Chatterjee). Ananda tells her that she has every right to commit suicide but warns her that a failed suicide is much worse than death in itself. She offers to train her on how to commit suicide professionally at his school which he calls “The Hemlock Society”. Shaken and confused, Meghna agrees and sets off on a journey with this strange man not knowing that the journey she embarks upon will lead her to self discovery, happiness and above all love.
Hemlock Society depicts the wear and tear of the city life and how mechanical we are becoming. A life in which it takes a father a lost daughter to realize his inadequacies. A boyfriend has to be insulted out of his guts to remind what grave wrong he did to his girlfriend of years and to be wife. The stepmother, on the other hand, seems to be the most sensitive and understanding. In such harsh times, Ananda Kar becomes a symbol of hope and retribution for the fragile and yet closed Meghna. the discussions between Meghna and Ananda are easily the best and the high points of the film.
Having said that, Hemlock Society is not a sob story. It is full of life. It teaches us the value and more importantly the beauty of life. It shows us why life is worth living. And it does all that with élan. Shrijit Mukherjee after Baishe Srabon, makes a complete U-turn into a subject which has been tried before but not in this fashion. The setting and the development of the plot is beautifully envisioned. The setting being a film city has let the director play with stark colors and compositions which might not have been possible otherwise. Look out for the different colors of the different classes at the Hemlock Society. They speak volumes.
The performances are top notch. Parambrata and Koel lead from the front. While Parambrata is the flamboyant go getter, Koel as the movie progresses comes out of her shell to depict her well known histrionics. The final encounter at the climax between her and Parambrata and the scene in the hospital to wards the end are endearing. Parambrata seems to be growing with every film and his comic timing is becoming impeccable. I just loved his performance. Sabyasachi and Shilajit in their brief performances are splendid. Soumitra Chatterjee as Col. Bagchi in a cameo is powerful.
The music is another huge plus for Hemlock Society. Anupam Roy creates tracks which are both soulful and meaningful. My favorite track would be “Ekhon Onek Raat” The way the song is woven into the narrative and the scene preceding it makes it even more worthwhile. The picturization is unconventional and might take many a while to understand. The cinematography is top notch all the way through.
Overall, Hemlock Society is an absorbing watch which is bound to inspire many to look at life in a little more optimistic light. A movie like this is sure to strike a chord with the tired and restless masses giving them some solace even if its for the movie’s runtime. Do yourselves a favor and watch this one.