Konkana Sen Sharma tried her hands in direction and she did a commendable job. With A Death In The Gunj, Konkana explored human relations. She has taken care of every tiny detail in the film and left no stone unturned in bringing the bygone era of 1979 in such a way that viewers get connected with them. But apart from Konkana’s brilliant display of directing skills in A Death In Gunj, it is Vikrant Massey’s acting that takes the movie to another level. Vikrant Massey has proven that he is an actor par excellence.
In A Death In The Gunj, Vikrant Massey essays the role of Shyamlal Chatterjee aka Shutu. Right from the first time you see him on the screen, Vikrant grabs your attention. He seems like someone who is misguided and doesn’t like the way Nandu (Gulshan Deviah) treats him- which by the way is not great. Shutu’s innocence brings him at the receiving end of pranks. Though the pranksters- Nandu, Vikram (Ranvir Shorey), Mimi (Kalki Koechlin), Brian (Jim Sarbh) and on some level Bonnie (Tillotama Shome), think of it has something to laugh at, it leaves a deep impact on Shutu. And it brings out the vulnerability of Shutu where Vikrant’s skills come handy.
Shutu has a lot to deal with- father’s death, not so illustrious career and a family who sees him as nothing more than a domestic help. Probably this is why Shutu found companionship in Tani (Arya Sharma), the eight-year-old daughter of Nandu. What Shutu was seen when he was with Tani. So when he told her about the words starting with the letter E he liked or spent hours with her in the garden away from the ‘grown-up’ crowd, Shutu came alive. The guilt in his eyes when Tani did not forgive him for ditching her, narrated how shaken Shutu could get with small incidents.
The insensitivity of the elders’ forces Shutu leads him to believe that he will find hope in love. Sadly that did not turn out to be well for him as well, pushing him to a darkness from which Shutu doesn’t recover.
The class act with which Vikrant brings innocence and torment of Shutu out is so distinguished that imagining someone else in the role is next t0 impossible. Vikrant tells the story of a distant observer of the society who is forgotten quite easily by the partying-bulling lot. You sympathise with Shutu despite his flaws. As a viewer, you know that he deserves better but at the same time you refrain from judging him for his action. Rather than giving suggestion to Shutu (in your mind) that he should change his life another way round, you root for his happy ending.
In an ensemble cast which also includes veteran actors like Tanuja and Om Puri, it is Vikrant Massey’s simplicity that stands out. Undoubtedly, the beauty of Vikrant Massey’s character will be remembered for a really long time.
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