Pankh is basically a disturbing flight which really causes you to sit down, think and then digest what director Sudipto Chattopadhyay is throwing at you at a very lazy pace. It’s rare that I actually give a gist of the film before actually giving the details of the film. But in the case of Pankh, it is necessary. Starring Bipasha Basu and newcomer Maradona Rebello, Pankh is hardly about a bird whose wings (pankh) have been clipped. Rather, the film metaphorically discusses an issue that is actually applicable in the film world even today. You know you’re in for a special surprise when this psychological thriller is produced by Sanjay Gupta. Not sure if everyone will love this one but read on to make your choice on this one.
21-year-old Jerry (Maradona Rebello) grew up as a child actress. Yes, you heard it right. The young boy was made to dress up and portray a girl using the pseudo name Baby Kusum. This in turn causes him to grow up utterly confused and unsure of his sexual identity. He is also constantly taunted by people who know of his childhood job. Additionally, he decides to befriend his pet turtle and imaginary dream-girl Nandini (Bipasha Basu). She entices and seduces him in a number of ways causing him to feel even more perplexed. Jerry is on the verge of insanity and is looking for a way out.
Pankh is a bit odd as a film. While it houses homosexuality, sex and sadism, you are left feeling slightly dirty once the film is over. However that said, it brings with it an uncanny sense of realism and unravels a secret that is rarely spoken of – child artists. This wouldn’t the first time that I personally have heard of a case where a young boy is forced to physically look and behave like a girl; it rarely happens in the opposite manner. As a director, Chattopadhyay does well but his story doesn’t connect with the audiences simply because it lacks glamour and even a proper plot. The film is intended for an overly intelligent audience, which is rare, especially since they need to have some background understanding of psychological disorders associated with sexual identity confusion. Pankh is unusually slow and after a while you wait for something to actually happen beyond the psycho-ness.
Maradona does well in his debut film and plays the he-she boy-girl part with great conviction. In fact in particular scenes where he rebels against his pushy mother, you can really see him become Jerry and encompasses him with a strange sense of grandeur. Bipasha Basu is simply all right and for some reason, it seems, is thrown into a corner looking hot – not really. She is wasted in Pankh especially amidst the heavy and strange costumes, which really didn’t need to be there. Lilette Dubey is fantastic as the overly over-ambitious mother who is eager for her son to become a superstar overnight and refuses to consider aspirations. Ronit Roy is impactful. Mahesh Manjrekar does absolutely nothing but act vile and foul – foul mouthed that is.
Pankh had potential but somewhere down the line changed from being impactful to rather odd. The subject is sensitive and interesting even. However, it moves from trying to deliver a social message to a complicated film, which tries, too hard. The only song worth listening to is ‘Ji Jala’. Beyond that, Pankh has very little to offer which is sad because the promise was there.