The earlier movie by Aparna Sen, “Mr and Mrs Iyer” was good. Though slow like her earlier movies, it was a beautiful woven fairy tale. Naturally I had many expectations from her latest “15 Park Avenue” (15PA).
Aparna Sen’s movies are slow and would not be categorized as regular Hindi Masala movies. 15PA is a story of two sister one a university Professor, highly intelligent and the other suffering from schizophrenia. The older sister played by Shabana Azmi is divorced and taking care of her mother played by Waheeda Rehman and her younger step sister, Mithi played by Konkana Sen Sharma. The story revolves around these two mostly but also looks at other relationship. Mithi is suffering from schizophrenia which is further aggravated by her gang rape when she goes for a journalist assignment. Her boyfriend Joydeep, played by Rahul Bose, who first thinks he can handle her illness backs up and leaves her after the rape.
But this situation leaves Mithi devastated where she goes from bad to worse. He imagines himself married to Rahul and has 5 children of her own and leaves in a house in Kolkatta calle 15, Park Avenue.
Years later when Joydeep or Jojo as Methi calls him is holidaying in Bhutan with his wife and two children. He sees Methi and feels guilty about the situation she is in. Methi fails to recognize him and takes him as a friend who will find her house for her. Jojo accompanies Methi to Kolkatta where he tries to help her find 15 Park Avenue
The subject of schizophrenia is handled well by the director. Schizophrenia patients are seen as insane by the society because they tend to believe in something which the society knows does not exist. They have created a make-believe world of their own which they are confident that it exists. However this make-believe world of theirs has a negative impact on the people around them. They don’t know what to trust and what not to trust.
15 PA is exploring this impact on the people around a schizophrenic patient. The same way the Marathi film Devrai did. “Devrai” was a much better movie and educated the mass about the diseases at the same time telling a beautiful story. You actually feel for the main protagonist (Atul Deshpande). In 15 PA its just a story. The audience does not identifies or feel for Methi or her sister. At some instances the movie drags but then with the re-entry of Rahul Bose, you wait for the climax. The climax is confusing when Rahul and Shabana themselves start searching for the imaginary 15 Park Avenue.
Shabana Azmi as the frustrated sister, Rahul Bose as the guilty boyfriend, and Shefali Shah as Rahul’s jealous wife does justice to their role. Their roles are brief and hardly gives them a chance to show their talent. Shefali however scores over Rahul. Waheeda Rehmaan does not have much to do except cry. Dhritiman Chatterjee plays the doctor who is treating Methi and plays a very significant part because his conversation and discussion with Shabana are the high point of the film. Their discussion attempts to look into the mind of a Schizophrenic patient. Kawaljeet Singh has a very short role of a professor who wants to marry Shabana.
Konkana Sen Sharma as Methi is good and I mean real good. She acts, behaves, walks like one. She plays the confused, under-confident and scarred methi to perfection. Like “Devrai”, the actor who plays the patient holds the key to the movie.
Although the movie tries to capture the life of a Schizophrenic patient, it misses something. The story moves at a very slow pace. The movie is certainly not made for the masses as the whole movie is in English. You really have to think while watching the movie.
Compared to the earlier “Mr and Mrs Iyer” this movie fails to create interest and even hold audience attention.
Rating : 5/10