Tuesday, November 24, 2015

15 Park Avenue (2005) - Review

15, Park Avenue is the story of Mithi (Konkana Sen), a former journalist who's had to leave her job and is now homebound, because of her clinical condition.

In the first scene, the camera takes us through the busy lanes of Calcutta where Mithi is trying to search for an address - 15, Park Avenue. Irked and running late for work, her elder sister Anjali, (Shabana Azmi), who has driven her down, tells her off no such place exists. In the next, Mithi is shown talking about her five kids. No one around believes her; her story subtly brushed away. And you gradually understand why.

Mithi is epileptic and schizophrenic. She has also lived through an appalling, traumatic incident while on a work assignment that has possibly stimulated and aggravated that condition.

The incident deeply moves you but the film thankfully doesn't not milk any melodrama out of such moments.

It interesting to see how the film questions and interprets the disorder and asks pertinent questions along the way. Whose world is real? Whose reasons are right? Whose explanations are justified?

Anjali is almost like a mother to Mithi having devoted her life to take care of her and put her love life on hold. She is a woman of steel and strong will. Shabana Azmi puts in a believable performance that holds this film together. But Konkana Sen leaves you speechless with her potential to pull through a role like this. No one else could've done justice to the part as much as her.

As much as our films romanticize and idealize love, we humans are complicated creatures and the film deftly captures that in Joydeep's (Rahul Bose) character - Konkana's ex-fiancee. 

The performances, the pacing, the setting and locations lend a confident ease to the narrative. The natural elements - the raw, surrounding sounds, the mesmerisingly haunting Bhutan (where parts of the second half have been shot) add to the overall impact of the narrative.

An ambiguous, open-ended climax leaves room for a lot of thought and discussion. I was sad it didn't answer my questions but was also piqued why the director (Aparna Sen) chose to end it the way she did. Could any other 'end' have diminished the impact of her intentions of making this film? Had Konkana finally found her reality? Did the doctor know or understand something that no one else did? 

As I write this, I want to know what you interpreted of it. Let's talk in the comments below.

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