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15 Park Avenue Review

Review by IndiaGlitz [ Monday, January 9, 2006 • Hindi ]
15 Park Avenue Review
Shabana Azmi, Konkona Sen Sharma, Rahul Bose, Kanwaljit Singh, Shefali Shetty, Waheeda Rehman
Aparna Sen
Bipin Vohra
Viju Shah

Aparna Sen's 15 Park Avenue is just the sort of film that will receive much  critical acclaim, but  will stop short of popular acclaim. Here, for popular acclaim read Box Office Success, for that is the only measure of popular acclaim, and this strictly film-festival oriented film is highly unlikely to strike a chord with the masses. But you can't blame her, because this film is clearly not for the masses.

First, it's an Aparna Sen film, and second, it deals with a difficult subject like Schizophrenia.

The story of Mithi (brilliantly played by Konkona Sen Sharma) a schizophrenic young woman of 27, whose only anchor in life is her elder sister Anjali (Shabana Azmi in an excellent performance)  who has put her own life on hold since she's the only support of Mithi and their widowed mother (Waheeda Rehman the third of the three good performances in the film).

In Mithi's schizophrenic mind is a world that is peopled only by her imaginary husband Jojo and five children -- each of whom she has fondly named. They live at an imaginary address: 15 Park Avenue.  And her rambling, schizophrenic mind is a sponge that takes every external event  and fits it in her own world. The entire film is Mithi's desperate quest for  15 Park Avenue, for  the love of the husband and  children that could have been hers but for a  brutal, traumatic experience that pushed her over the edge into the deep recesses of schizophrenia. While the address and the children are indeed the workings of her schizophrenic mind, the name of her `imaginary' husband stems from the relationship Mithi had with Joydeep Roy, whom she used to call Jojo, and who was determined to marry her even though he knew she was  mentally a bit  challenged.

The brutal traumatic experience that pushed Mithi over the edge into the dark recesses of Schizophrenia was a stomach turning gang-rape by goons of a political party in a cow-belt town while she was on a news reporting assignment. Not only did it push Mithi into Schizophrenia, her trauma and her condition also pushed Jojo out of her life he realized he didn't love her any longer, and felt it would be a betrayal of himself and her if he persisted with the relationship. So, while Jojo leaves Mithi's life, he continues to inhabit the recesses of her mind.

And 15 Park Avenue is the story of a loving, stretched  family that cares for Mithi, and tries desperately to come to grips with her condition that manifests itself in a never-ending quest for 15 Park Avenue. And till the end, till the climax, the quest never ends; but we'll come to that in a moment.

The first thing that shines forth is the deftness with which Sen handles the delicate and complex  task of depicting both: schizophrenia in a  young woman who is a sister, daughter and a beloved, and  its impact on the lives and relationships of her mother, sister and fiance. Excellent in parts, with an intense and depressing storyline because you can tell Mithi's  search will never end, 15 Park Avenue is studded with four very good performances by Konkona Sen Sharma, Shabana Azmi, Shefali Shah  and Waheeda Rehman in that order. Hemant Chaturvedi's camera work, and the truly eloquent background music  underplayed but extremely complementary round off sensitive and emotionally and technically competent direction  by Aparna Sen.

But 15 Park Avenue has its lacunae too. A very very verbose script. With every character sounding like everyone else, using the same kind of syntax and language, clipped, precisely written very Brit sentences. All rattled off perfectly without an er or a hum, without missing   a beat. And pray why does Kanwaljeet (stiff performance as Shabana's colleague who's in love with her) speak with such a f

Rating: 0 / 5.0

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