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Movie Review: "A Death in the Gunj" – Konkona Sen Sharma's directorial debut is breathtaking
The Ruskin Bond-ish mystic hill-story style gets a cinematic avatar.

Remember those Ruskin Bond-ish stories of mystery and mountains, which included a rest-house in the middle of a forest and visited by a couple of people doing uneventful, laid-back things on a vacation? Peculiarly, those usual activities had some false-but-likely grimness attached leading to something untowardly happening.

"A Death in the Gunj" is a close screen-adaptation of such fables.

The suspense-drama, apparently based on a true story, traversed through a week-long excursion to a rural parental home in McCluskieganj. An old married couple been visited by their son, his wife and their young daughter, some childhood friends with a 20-something cousin. Clearly, the latter is the least important of all; true and false.


Shutu (Vikrant Massey, "Lootera" & "Dil Dhadakne Do") is a troubled young-man who fell from grace after his father's demise. Keeping distance from his widowed mother and his failures, he battled his over-sensitive nature when his cousins (Gulshan Deviah, "Shaitaan") and their friends (Ranvir Shorey, "Bheja Fry" and Jim Sarbh, "Neerja") invariably made him do odd-jobs at home, frivolously bully and taking him for granted. He found little solace with his niece in doodling and homely games, while juggling his attraction for sis-in-law's promiscuous sibling (Kalki Koechlin). Despite his capabilities to be better, the circumstances made matters worse, thereby, climaxing in unfortunate implosion of events.

Being 'ace film-actress', Konkona Sen Sharma's directorial debut is remarkable for its screenwriting and character development, inspiring plethora of emotions on celluloid. The poignance of a short-story amidst lack of human empathy transpired beautifully throughout.
Massey is incredible as the protagonist and towers amongst his co-stars comprising the likes of – late Om Puri, Tanuja, Telotama Shome, Shorey and even Kalki.

Despite genuine talent, there were strong drawbacks. Its overly-inclined towards moral pathos along with the slow pacing, causing the concentration and interest both waiver. Climax been well founded – possibly a subtle touch to thoughts of 'existential' lingo - proved, a little abrupt and disappointing. Even less than two-hours of runtime, doesn't help much.

Nevertheless, it's an uncommon release – a reason enough for sincere cine-goers to give this a chance. Therefore, an appreciative "6.75/10" for the craftsmanship of Sen Sharma and hoping many more in the future.

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