Writer-director Sanjib Dey polishes his arc of storytelling (A Reasonable Compromise (Short) film his previous) in III SMOKING BARRELS –an anthology of three stories with Far East India as the backdrop.
Sanjib Dey’s debut as a feature director has its all, some indie embrace, some cliché embarrassments, some enthusiasm, some exuberance etc, but the silver lining in the jumble is that story in the jungle that charms, cajoles and make this experiment worthy of merits that it deserves thanks to a superlative Subrat Dutta who pushes it to a pleasing finish.
This anthology complies three stories but they are not connected the only connection is in the name and the region that is all probability is a metaphor – Child The Beginning, Boy The Middle and Man The End. Youngsters falling in the drug peddling racket, teen forced to join rebellious armed outfits, and ivory poaching.
The movie begins with Janice (Shiny Gogoi) a 14 year old boxer who was taken into a rebel camp on gun point, runs away from the camp and hijacks Anuraag Dutta (Indraneil Sengupta) on highway. Anuraag is on his way to Guwahati from Manipur. A sort of Stockholm syndrome is developed between the kidnapped and the kidnapper where Janice’s expresses her displeasure in forcefully getting involved in the political conflict which has now turned dangerous.
The next is set in Guwahati, Donnie (Siddharth Boro) an engineering dropout who finds the ‘cool’ quotient in supplying and having drugs. He is flabbergasted when he finds access to a gun and soaked in high of power and substance gets into a dangerous situation while his cliché mother played by Mandakini Goswami has nothing but to cry.
The last one is the best. Set near the India-Bhutan border, it takes on the dangerous ivory poaching. Struck with poverty and misery immigrant Mukhtar (Subrat Dutta) gets enrolled into the illegal ivory poaching, Ikram (Nalneesh Neel) is his partner in crime. They kill 15 elephants in their zest for survival. A personal setback changes the mindset which sets Mukhtar on a journey of redemption and hope.
The exotic virgin landscapes are vital parts of these stories told in Meitei, Nagamese, Assamese, Hindi and English language. A touch of de noir, indie is felt on occasions that get twined with the regionally flavor that comes with a haunting background score.
Laced with fine performance by almost everyone Indraneil Sengupta, Subrat Dutta, Mandakini Goswami, Amrita Chattopadhyay, Shiny Gogoi, Siddharth Boro, Nalneesh Neel, Rajni Basumatary, Disha Thakur, Bijou Thaangjam, Niloy Sankar Gupta and Vikram Gogoi, its Subrat Dutta as Mukhtar that shines bright and provides more light to these decent anthology on screen that introduces Sanjib Dey as a story teller with some individuality