Review: Life Express
Posted by barkha on September 17, 2010 | No Comments
Film – Life Express
Producer – Sanjay Kalate
Director – Anup Das
Cast – Kiran Janjani, Rituparna Sengupta, Divya Dutta, Yashpal Sharma, Alok Nath, Nandita Puri
Story/Writer – Anup Das
Screenplay, dialogue – Mandira Chakraborty, Shailendra Tyagi
Music – Roop Kumar Rathod
Our socio-cultural dynamics have undergone a huge change in the last twenty years or so. Economic globalisation threw the Indian world bang open to the cultural mindsets of the whole world and the influences, along with the shooting upward mobility opportunities changed our values beyond recognition. And the change is still on.
Life Express, in its own way tries to portray this change in our society and argues it in a somewhat balanced if not insightful manner. Nikhil and Tanvi are a young and ambitious couple in love with each other and their work. They lead lives akin to thousands of young working couples in India with six figure salaries and not many liabilities except ambition. A choice between her fast-growing career and impending motherhood leads Tanvi to abort her child. After the storm settles down the two realise that their ambitions are not just about the next promotion. It is a never-ending cycle that will never allow Tanvi space for motherhood. They decide to hire a surrogate mother to help them solve this problem. Whether it solves the problem and whether a problem as this needs a solution like this are questions the film attempts to answer thereon.
Though limited in its scope, the film throws up some potent questions about our lifestyle choices and changing values. The change in gender roles is not argued but is accepted. It is refreshing to see such a tone of communication rather than the confrontational one we are so used to. The questions of right of a woman to career goals as well as her motherhood and the role of the father are explored with an understanding balancing the dynamics of human nature and urban social reality. The choice of the woman and her right to it are argued as varying point of views rooted in certain sensibilities and values and are not presented as truths set in stone. It ultimately chooses a definite ending that veers to a particular standpoint but that conclusion is more from a biological and somewhat existential point of view rather than brow-beating a social standpoint. After a long time a film portrays a working woman as a human being who has values and a good sense of right and wrong instead of the typical selfish, manipulative and cold character stereotype.
However, the theme and its manner of argument are the only things that somewhat redeem this film. The intent is the only thing that Life Express can really boast of, an intent that sadly never transforms visually.
Extremely mediocre in its production values it lays to waste some good acting talents like Rituparna Sengupta, Divya Dutta and Yashpal Sharma with some scenes being downright unwatchable. Kiran Janjani is an unfortunate example of bad casting with his non-existent acting talents. The screenplay has an even pace although too slow. The constant drag and bad acting couple with an experience that bemoans the otherwise sane tone of the film.
The film never engages because of its sub-par treatment and lacklustre appeal. It may make you think while at it but unfortunately not long enough to make an impact it so badly wishes to. It never draws you in and that is sad for a film with a bit of good intentions.
We may need films to address our changing social dynamics but we definitely do not need films that are as poor as Life Express is.