Can cultural activities or treating criminals with respect bring about a change in their behaviour and mindset? V. Shantaram, one of our finest filmmakers, made a heart-rending film addressing this issue, way back in 1957, in Do Aankhen Baarah Haath. In spite of it being made in the ’50s, it was far more impactful and thought-provoking.
While Calapor starts off well, it loses grip in no time and ends up being uninspiring and inconsequential. Major flaw being, it all looks very convenient. The notorious prisoners look noble and funny enough to pass for clowns in a circus, even before Kathak dancers Jyotsna (Rituparna Sengupta) and Ragini (Binni Sharma) enter the Central Jail in Calapor, Goa with an intention of reforming these dangerous convicts.
The inmates are co-operative, but Jyotsna is reluctant about the initiative, as for her, accepting the assignment would be reopening old wounds. She takes up the challenge nevertheless, but gets haunted by her troubled past.
What begins as a film made to address an issue transforms into a tragic family drama, where fate unites father, son and mother after years. This track, coupled with scenes of a corrupt politician and his vicious motives, hold no relevance to the film’s primary theme. The suspense factor falls flat as you predict what’s going to happen next pretty easily.
Humour seems juvenile and forced. Some scenes even defy logic. For instance, why would a cop himself scream ‘Police ko bulao’ when asking for assistance! Most actors ham endlessly, barring Rituparna Sengupta and Harsh Chhaya, who deliver fine performances. Raghuveer Yadav and Priyanshu Chatterjee are wasted.
The intent is good and we get the message, but shoddy execution fails to elicit a response or provoke sympathy for convicts who may want to change their lives for the better. A topic as significant and intense as this should have been handled better.
The film focuses on the need for reformation and rehabilitation programs for prison inmates.
The Times of India