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A DEATH IN THE GUNJ (English-Hindi) - An excellent directorial debut by Konkona, presenting a well-crafted film with a fabulous cast ensemble and subject. (Review By Bobby Sing)
05 Jun, 2017 | Movie Reviews / 2017 Releases / Indian Regional language Gems (Other Than Hindi)

To begin with, though this features a talented cast ensemble from the Hindi film industry, it still cannot be considered as a part of the mainstream commercial cinema as the film is almost entirely in English and has a treatment or pace not really enjoyable for the ones looking for their routine Hindi film entertainment. So this is unarguably for the niche audience more interested in some fresh or novel content irrespective of the language its characters choose to interact in. And if you are one among those, then here is a film offering you enough to appreciate in its less than two hours of duration focusing on a group of relatives, friends and a death as disclosed in its title.
 
A well-crafted directorial debut by Konkona Sen Sharma proving her genes, DEATH IN THE GUNJ is a mild thriller which fearlessly reveals the subject in its title and then makes you wait for it to happen as the characters interact with each other celebrating the new-year in 1979 taking you back in time. The tension keeps building with the every passing moment and one expects The Death to be there soon in the very next scene changing the complete scenario. However the director has some other plans to shock you stepping on to an entirely different path. And that’s exactly where it excels moving far ahead than one’s individual expectations of watching a crime-thriller.
 
Refusing to write anything about its basic plot, all I can reveal is that this is about a family’s reunion/holiday visit to their parent’s house and the events thereafter, leading towards an explosive climax, forcing you to think about the people responsible for the same, knowingly or unknowingly contributing their bit in the shattering tragedy. Following a layered narration displaying a deep understanding of human nature, undisclosed family relationships, unintentional bullying of a comparatively backward or weak member, class-divisions in the society and the usual ego conflicts between personalities, one gradually starts loving the film a lot, forgetting the expected thriller element as it progresses further.  
 
It actually scores much more due to its flawless, natural performances for which Konkona deserves the credit too along with the talented cast ensemble. Where Om Puri and Tanuja excel as the old couple, Ranvir Shorey, Gulshan Devaiah, Jim Sarbh, Tillotama Shome, Kalki Koechlin and the kid-girl together make it an extremely delightful watch without any interrupting song. But the best act comes from Vikrant Massey giving a highly poignant performance as the key character everything revolves around in the script.
 
The technical finesse further makes it richer with an outstanding cinematography, worth noticing frames and an apt background score perfectly in sync with the sequences and emotions on screen. But the pace might become an issue for the viewers desperately waiting for the crime or death element to come in. Though thoroughly enjoyable, the build-up is quite long with nothing significant happening during most of the film, especially for the ones considering it to be a crime thriller in particular (and it actually isn’t any suspense crime drama to be precise, giving you a clear indication).
 
In all, A DEATH IN THE GUNJ might not be able to impress the audience coming in to watch an engaging ‘who-dun-it’ thriller misguided by the deceiving title. But the film is certainly going to be a visual treat for the friends willing to watch something unusual raising a few relevant questions. One of the best movies of 2017 in its specific genre, do watch it if you are game for such appreciable experimental films made with a startling confidence.
 
Rating : 3.5 + 0.5 / 5 (with the additional 0.5 for the brilliant atmosphere created by Konkana through the collective impact of cinematography, background score, art direction and the superb performances)

Tags : A Death In The Gunj Review by Bobby Sing at Bobbytalkscinema.com, Hinglish Films, Indian Films in English, Konkona Sen Sharma directorial debut, Mild Crime Thriller, Indian Experimental Films
05 Jun 2017 / Comment ( 2 )
Ribhu
Love the new look Bobby!
Bobby Sing
Thanks a lot Ribhu. Glad to know that you liked the new look. HIS BLESSINGS
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