Director: Soumitra Ranade
Cast: Manav Kaul, Nandita Das, Saurabh Shukla
A conceptual remake. In interviews, writer-director Soumitra Ranade and actor Nandita Das have used this term to describe their film based on Saeed Mirza’s 1980 film Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyoon Aata Hai. The original won some awards and that striking name stayed in memory. Soumitra takes the title, character names and the basic premise of a middle-class Christian family in Mumbai, though here it’s white collar and there it was blue, and he builds his own narrative about an angry young man.
It’s an interesting idea to repurpose an earlier film, not by rebooting it but by blending the narrative essence with new DNA. So the anger might be inspired but the plot is new. Like the original, this film also starts with a car ride but here the atmosphere is ominous. Soumitra cuts between past and present. The action also shifts between Albert’s family describing what Albert was like to a cop who is looking into their missing person’s report and Albert himself who is on the highway, purposefully leaving it all behind.
In the original, Albert symbolized the frustration and rage of the common man. Albert’s father, a hard-working, mild-mannered mill worker, is slowly crushed by a corrupt system. In the film, the greedy mill owner smugly declares, “We are all partners in progress but the workers don’t stand a chance.” The film, co-written by Kundan Shah, is a rant against the state of the nation. Through it, characters routinely say lines like, “Is country ka toh god hi rakhwala hai” and, “Mumbai ek jhopad patti hai.”
Sadly, not much has changed. So the 21st century Albert is also battling greed and scams. However, Soumitra narrates his tale like the fever dream of a man slowly becoming unhinged. Some frames are saturated with color, Nandita plays multiple roles and in places, scenes end abruptly or seem entirely disconnected. Soumitra works hard to immerse us in Albert’s fractured headspace and three fine artists – Nandita, Manav Kaul and Saurabh Shukla – give it their best shot but the writing is so stilted that their performances can’t land. Nandita is grossly miscast as Albert’s pliant girlfriend Stella – while he rails against the world, she supportively adds, “It’s terrible, so disturbing.” Nandita is too strong a personality to play the forgettable, kindly girlfriend. The dialogue is bewildering. In one scene, Albert actually says: A bulb has been broken inside my stomach.
Subtlety is not Soumitra’s strength. He hammers his point home again and again – in every possible scenario. So in one scene, Albert, sitting next to a dead body, asks with anguish, “Kaise chalta hai hamara desh? Kaun chalata hai?” The film strains to address these existential questions. Prostitution, pedophilia, middle-class apathy and murder is also bunged in. It’s too much weight to put on the half-baked script and the film collapses quickly.
Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyun Aata Hai was made with crowdfunding and good intentions but it never comes near where it wants to go. I’m going with two stars.