Nestled in Coorg, Karnataka, is a sprawling coffee plantation that comes alive as the embittered protagonist revisits the haunt of his growing up days. 'Thaa Mane'
, the house he helped name, is still intact. The new owners decided to stick by that.
Over sharp cinematography and even sharper, innovative narrative [through a 'voice-over' plugged into the protagonist's ears] director Manu Warrier unveils his story-telling craft, as Dev Anand (Arjun Mathur) takes halting, baby steps as he approaches the gates to his vast coffee plantation he had sold, unknown to his mother, who died heart-broken. He is carrying her ashes with him. He hopes to ensure that her soul rests in peace as he tries to source coffee beans from here to sell in his shop. Somewhere, at the back of his mind, he also entertains the thought of getting back the plantation. But that is a dart wedged deep within the narrative: when pulled out by Warrier, it unravels the mystery of Dev's past.
In the first half, Warrier smartly goes about intertwining the lives of the four main characters to a nicety. The return of Dev to the plantation actually brings him to the crossroads of life where he has to face quite a few demons from the past. And staring him straight in the face is Anika (Sugandha Garg), his teenaged love. Situations tore them apart and they meet after 15 long years, by which time Anika has moved on and married Vasu (Mohan Kapoor) who has ventured into coffee plantation, something he knows nothing about. Anika requests Dev to help them out with their first crop as she knows he is an expert and has a plantation of this magnitude as well.
Reluctantly, Dev agrees. Warrier then goes about slickly presenting the story. The first half helps you put the plot together. No spoon feeding here. Warrier builds up the interval to a nicety taking it to a point of conflict. Post that, the movie takes a beautiful turn, maturing to a climax of unforeseen proportions.
Revenge? Anger? Peace? I leave that for you to go and find out.
Most movies climax at the interval and leave the rest of it in a mess. Not COFFEE BLOOM, it moves up gradually, rising to a crescendo as the final scene explodes, or should I say diffuses. The music adds volumes to the silence in between.
Arjun Mathur and Sugandha Garg are delightfully believable in their roles. Both complement each other every act of the way. Their small overtures, dialogues when in an awkward situation, frustrations et al
are beautifully enacted.
Arjun is going from strength to strength experimenting with different roles. Each time he comes up trumps. His body language is a delight. With an ability like that he is bound to take on any role. Remember the close dance Al Pacino is having in Martin Brest's SCENT OF A WOMAN? And his immediate reaction when he is being led by the hand in another scene? Everything is spontaneous and spoken with his body.
Sugandha too has been very, very impressive. Hers is a class performance that matches the mood and the intensity when required. Her bottled up explosion towards the end is a delightful scene. Mohan Kapoor surprises as the loving, irritable husband who ventures from one business to another. Iswari Bose comes in a cameo and knocks you off with her innocence.
''There's nothing more fascinating than clarity,'' the voice-over soothingly concludes. I'd like to add, there's nothing more fascinating than seeing poetry in motion on screen.