Shubharambh Web Series Review: No Inner Music, Only Surface Gimmicks, Film Companion

Director: Abhijit Chowdhury 

Screenplay: Arkadeep Nath 

Cast: Jasmine Roy, Satyam Bhattacharya, Dibyasha Das, 

Streaming on: Hoichoi

If opening scenes are meant to establish the prime concerns of a story, Shubharambh does so with great integrity. We see a little girl sing Rabindra Sangeet to a boy her age—she will become a composer-singer when she grows up and the scene will define her relationship with the boy. (It’s a flashback). In the next scene we see her running late for an appointment with a client, being yelled at by her manager/friend who waits for her in front of the office of a leading jewellery brand—we will see a lot of the jewellery brand, a lot, to the extent that it’s even there in the last shot at the end of its sixth and final episode. Self referential filmmaking, or cinema as a sorry excuse for product placement? If you have’t figured which, you deserve to sit through it and find out for yourself. 

Which isn’t to say it is the worst thing about the series (which really is of feature film length, broken into episodes that run slightly longer than a Coke Studio song). Among other things, Subhomita, our protagonist (Roy) is too dolled up all the time to be taken seriously as a composer going through a creative crisis (she’s ought to be more messy). She’s someone who’s both trying to come out of her father’s shadow as a musician—he was also her music teacher, who eloped with one of his students, causing a great scandal in the neighbourhood—and overcome the trauma of him abandoning their family. It’s too heavy a theme for the show, which it deals with the maturity of, well, a Hoichoi series. 

There’s some good cheer in the form of the actor playing Mainak, her love interest (Satyam Bhattacharya), who shows wry comic timing and manages to give his character some personality. But the character, under the veneer of a decent chap, has incel issues. After inexplicably proposing her with a ring on their second meet after ten years — purchased where from but the same jewellery brand — he goes on to help out her family in a time of crisis. He states that he doesn’t expect reciprocation for his feelings towards her in return, but on a drunken night non consensually kisses Subhomita anyway. The problem isn’t that he ends up committing an act that breaks her trust—people are more complex than we think and every guy is capable of being a dick. The problem is that the film guilt trips her into loving him back. 

It’s perhaps unrealistic to expect such nuance from a show that is, at best, pleased to operate on a superficial level without getting into the psychological complexity of the premise. We see nothing of Subhomita’s inner music, only surface gimmicks, like the use of street noise for her track. It seems hip, but is just empty posturing. 

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