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Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub,
A city with a history of heritage, myth and superstition. A passionate architect with hang ups and delusions about love and life. A Czech gypsy girl looking for her identity and love. Add to that a mean friend you cannot get away with and cannot trust. And a left-out leftover of someone who is not really there but does not leave you alone. All of them come together, interfering, manipulating, coaxing and torturing each other as their search for peace, freedom and love continues. A psychologically thrilling ride which takes you to the darkest corners of your mind, the shut-down alleys of your soul and the graveyard of your heart. Written by
Writing a review about 'Prague' will be quite a task. The key factor being that the movie takes a while to sink in. It has all the elements that make it fit the bill of a film that would be well received at film festivals. It's a psychological thriller shot at an interesting location and some brilliant acting by relatively unknown faces.
Chandan (Chandan Roy Sanyal) is an architect who bags a project at Prague and he is to be accompanied by Gulshan (Mayank Kumar), his carefree buddy. Chandan's constant companion happens to be a mysterious Arfi (Arfi Lamba). But, what lies beneath is Chandan's battle with schizophrenia and his struggle with relationships.
Early on, during the openings credits, the movie sets the tone on what to expect in the Czech capital. Prague is shown to be a place with architectural wonders. And this turns out to be so for Chandan who is working on finding an idea for his project.
One evening, he chances by Elena (Elena Kazan), a danseuse and very soon, the two develop a bond. By the way, it's so convenient that she had spent some time in India, that too in Chandan's hometown of Kolkata and knows a bit of Bengali.
The rest of the story which includes a series of flashbacks, is better not discussed, for it could reveal the suspense. Nonetheless, despite it seeming like a 'thriller', it was possible to predict what the twists could be. Although, there are this cannot take anything away from the fact that it is a well-written film and the dialog has clever lines.
Most of the writing effort seems to have gone into development of its characters. Noteworthy among them is the role of Gulshan who is seen 'living his life to the fullest', a spirit that Chandan admires, but fails to emulate to due to other issues that hold him back. Elena on the other hand is beautiful and caring, but has a strong desire to give meaning to her gypsy roots, a reference to the Roma tribes of the region.
The scenes on the screen are shaded by dark undertones, the heady mixture of cigarette smoke, drugs, alcohol and women. Those that involve Prague's architecture are shown well. One scene that is exceptional is Chandan clicking pictures of his muse in a gypsy avatar where Kazan looks stunning.
Prague does have a few flaws. Despite it meaning to be a suspense, the plot can be worked out. It also has moments where it gets too involved into its characters that it is distracting at times. There are some repetitive moments which can be defended as having dramatic value. In all fairness, its genre is challenging in itself.
Made on a small budget and actors with no name-recall, the film is a bold experiment. Director Ashish R Shukla, who is also credited with the story, needs to be applauded for the effort. The newer breed of directors pushing creative limits is a positive trend that must be encouraged. It's a pleasant break from Bollywood's blockbuster culture.
Verdict: Don't shy away from 'Prague' because it isn't a star-studded big budget flick or that it lacks item numbers, if you are keen about those, then stay away. 'Prague' is a serious film and a bold attempt by a débutant director. Despite some of its shortcomings, a film connoisseur will be happy he watched this film.
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