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An unemployed Manoj (alias Manu) is told by his mother that they need some money for his sister's forthcoming marriage, and he sets out to find some. For this purpose, he visits his former Calcutta-based girlfriend, Neerj alias Neeru, whom he was to marry, but who preferred to marry someone wealthier, in Calcutta. He rings the doorbell, and the door is answered by Neerja herself, and he is invited inside. They talk and update each other on their lives. Neerja puts on Manoj's raincoat, so she could go out and buy something to cook for him. She warns him not to open the door nor let anyone in. After Neerja leaves a man knocks on the door, and requests entry into the house to use the toilet. Manoj opens the door and lets the male use the facilities. When this male finishes his business, he refuses to leave, and sits and talks with Manoj. It is during this conversation that Manoj finds out the stark truth behind Neerja, her husband, and their married life. Written by
The movie is inspired by O. Henry's (William Sidney Porter) "The Gift Of Magi" which Rituparno Ghosh duly acknowledges as the credits roll.
No giving away too much of the storyline, the movie picks up a day from the diary of Manoj (Ajay Devgan), lost and failed in life, now in Kolkatta to seek financial assistance from friends in order to start a business. Admist this, he decides to visit his lost-love Neerja (Aishwarya Rai). Ironically, its a rainy day and hence the Raincoat.
In terms of acting, its Annu Kapoor who stands tall, pity that his acting talent is confined to Antakshari. As a compassionate yet frustrated land-lord he gets into the skin of the character in terms of the accent and mannerism.
Ajay Devgan has matured to a dependable actor and once again proves that he can portray any role with ease.
Aishwarya Rai, not to mention director's favourite, "had" immense scope in this tailor-made role, sadly does meet the mark. Somehow it appears that she lacked conviction (or was she busy paying greater attention to Bride & Prejudice - a step to International fame?). On and off she used to mutter a few Hinglish words to convince the audience that Neerja hailed from a village. A bit of homework to watch Smita Patil, Shabana Azmi and Tabu would have been definite help. Or for that matter watching a newcomer Konkana Sen Sharma in Mrs & Mr. Iyer would have given an insight to the amount of conviction and hard-work needed to pull off a fantastic feat.
Surekha Sikri (Ajay Devgan's Mother) did not have enough screen-time.
Mouli Ganguli (Meena) played a modern yet sensitive and understanding friends wife. It is how-ever not explained the reason she was was over-hospitable?
Debajyoti Mishra's music is aptly used to compliment the richness of the visuals. Shuba Mudgal's song "Piya Tora Kaisa Abhimaan" lingers throughout the movie in the background and Gulzar's recital of the poetry give an additional depth to the dimension.
Having read so much about Rituparno Ghosh, I was curious myself to watch Raincoat. And boy, he does have substance. The essential emotion "covert" used by two lead protagonists forming the baseline of the story is portrayed effectively with utmost sensitivity. The control over portraying relationships, the finer nuances taken care of, speak for itself to deliver a product that is nothing short of perfection.
The movie sans commercial ingredients and hence sadly, would be confined to appreciation from a limited audience. And for those limited audience - a must watch.
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