Star Cast: Lillete Dubey, Shree Ghatak, Celina Jaitly
Writers: Ranjib Mazumder (Story), Ram Kamal Mukherjee (Screenplay & Dialogue)
Producers: Aritra Das and Shailendra Kumar
Production Banner: Assorted Motion Pictures
Director: Ram Kamal Mukherjee
Bollywood filmmakers very seldom pick up topics revolving around the LGBTQ community. But director Ram Kamal Mukherjee made an attempt to portray a delightful story around the same subject and successfully mastered at it. The story of Season's Greeting revolves around Romita (Celina Jaitly) and her single mother Suchitra (Lillete Dubey), who is separated from her husband and how a 'Big' secret that changes everything when it is revealed at a family dinner. The 45 minutes long film also features Azhar Khan as Romita's boyfriend, Usmaan and Shree Ghatak as Chapala, Suchitra's house help. The film is set in Kolkata around a Bengali family and the director had tastefully left the essence of it with several scenes.
The movie begins with a beautiful poem that Suchitra is reading out of a greeting card that she has received, setting the tone for the film. Lillete beautifully portrays the emotions of the character without even speaking a single word and conveys how lonely her character feels in her lavish house. Celina's character is introduced post this scene where she is seen enjoying a private moment with her partner Usmaan. The couple then talks about their lives together, about how Romita won't change her religion post-marriage and how they have to go meet her mother later in the day. The scene is then carried forward to more discussions between the couple about work, politics and whatnot.
It is during this conversation between the Romita and Usmaan when the first mention about an LGBTQ person is made. Romita talks about her house help Chapala who had a sex change when she was young. On being inquired about her parents, Romita then narrates the story of their separation and reveals that she thinks her mother is quite happy with being alone. She thinks her mother is content with her music and dance. Little does she know what actually is the case.
Daughter’s homecoming is like a celebration in Bengali tradition so to welcome her daughter after so many years, Suchitra leaves no stone unturned to decorate her house and prepare the meals. This is where the story finally picks up the pace and you are hooked to know what's the big secret. The director gives you subtle hints of what's coming ahead but doesn't let you know until the end. Romita discovers her mother's biggest secret during this family dinner which will leave you both shocked and overwhelmed.
Talking about the direction:
The film is splendidly woven with on-point dialogues, music, background setting and convincing characters. Season's Greeting marks director Ram Kamal's debut and from what he has to offer, we can safely say that he has worked very keenly on each and every shot to make the film look authentic and neat. Talking about the screenplay, it is so gripping that you will be hooked to know what will happen next in the film till the end. There are no dull moments in the film and even the most emotional scenes are shot so impressively that it will move you as a viewer.
Season’s Greetings is a homage to legendary filmmaker Rituparno Ghosh and you see hints of his work with how Ram has shot this film. Prabhatendu Mondal's cinematography has to be given due credit as well. Shailendra Kumar's music adds magic to the whole scene and it will be competent to say that the film would have been very pale without his marvellous work. The work on the characters is also commendable as one is easily convinced about Lillete Dubey compatibility with her daughter Celina Jaitly. the two fit the characters quite well. What adds more drama to the story are the dialogues. There is this one scene where Romita confronts Suchitra about her life decisions and viewers can relate to it very easily because of the smoothly written dialogues.
The only thing that disappoints is that you don't get to see much of the 'Bengali' vibe in these 45 minutes except a few dialogues and a song.
Talking about the performances
Lillete Dubey drives the film. Her character, as we mentioned earlier, doesn't speak for the first few minutes of her screen time but still is able to convey her feelings, which is mindblowing. Throughout the film, she manages to maintain a sense of grace and simplicity which we think isn't everyone's cup of tea. She has essayed the role of a mother quite a few times but you will not get bored to see her in this avatar again in this film. It is refreshing and new.
Celina Jaitly steals the limelight with her performance as well. Her eyes speak volumes and her portrayal of a modern, hard-working, upfront daughter is surreal. She manages to retain her compatibility with her boyfriend and with her mother quite elegantly till the end of the film.
Supporting characters like Azhar Khan as Usmaan and Shree Ghatak as Chapala have also done a commendable job.
Overall, Season's Greeting is a subtle, sweet story with a neatly interwoven plot and subplots. The film has an open ending leaving the viewers wanting to know what happens next and that adds to the beauty of the film.
Verdict: A must watch!
Ratings: 3 1/2 stars