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Reviews
Missed Call
Cast
: Ankur Vikal, Heeba Shah, Ram Kapoor, Salim Ghouse.
Direction & Script
: Mridul Toolsidas & Vinay Subramaniam

This is an arrestingly and often deliberately amateurish coming-of-age film.

Protagonist Gaurav Sengupta (Ankur Vikal) is a wannabe film director being forced to conform by his entrepreneur father (Salim Ghouse).

In being invigoratingly fresh-faced and innovatively voiced, the co-directors have pressed all the right buttons in the narrative. The clumsy camera movements come in handy when describing lives that are as aimless as rudderless ships...But wait till you have to hold that frame steady!

You often wonder if the niche filmmaker is fated to remain that way because he knows no other place as a creator.  

"Missed Call" is the most unaffected film about adulthood and the quest for motivated maturity since Dev Benegal's "English, August". Sex, you are amused to see, isn't a very essential part of hero Gaurav's growing-up rituals. He's so single-mindedly impassioned by the idea of filmmaking that he seems to put off all other obligations in life, including love in the unorthodox form of Gayatri (Heeba Shah).

The Gaurav-Gayatri sequences are suitable, tentative and endearing as long as the directors don't parody Hindi film conventions. Once the ritual of satirising kitsch begins, "Missed Call" looks as though it's ridiculing that which it can never ever hope to be.

Specially flat are the efforts to recreate a typical story session with an uncouth Bollywood producer (whom Gaurav wins over by narrating a script) and the utterly mocking replication of Guru Dutt's martyred postures from "Pyasa" when Gaurav burns his girlfriend's pictures with Mohammed Rafi screaming "Jalaa do jalaa do".

Slow burnout at 23? The trouble with this valiant effort to create a cinema of truths regarding life's half-shaped untruths is that it seems as dithering in its narration as the protagonist's ever-wavering consciousness.

Parts of the film ring deeply true, thanks to the largely unknown lead actor Ankur Vikal who brings a sense of wrenching uncertainty to his character's crucifiable commitment to introspective honesty. Vikal is more integral to the film's unanchored soul than some portions of the narrative, which parody the unconventional with staccato savagery.

The tale of post-pubescent angst could've been gentler, more steadfast in depicting the protagonist's inner turmoil. That hand-held-camera feeling makes you queasy about the film's intentions.

Though you cannot really recommend it as anyone's idea of an evening of diversion, "Missed Call" is a cutting example of niche cinema getting as close to the urban reality about the average bourgeois youngster as a camera can possibly take the audience. But at the end of the day the sense of aimlessness that overwhelms Gaurav Sengupta is much too familiar to connect with the audience as anything but an odd film about a square among circles.

Trouble is, the circles are getting wider these days. Soon it would be hard to tell the avant-garde from the conventional.

 
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