Story: Hard-working couple Arnab (Jisshu) and Sushmita (Mimi) had left their son Posto with his parents in Santiniketan, while they chased their dreams in Kolkata. When Arnab gets a business offer in the UK, they want to relocate with their son. But the grandparents are unwilling to let him go. Who will Posto stay with?
Review: What are little boys made of? Snips and snails and puppy dogs’ tails. What are little girls made of? Sugar and spice and all things nice. So that brings us to the inevitable question: what, really, is the Bengali audience made of?
The reply to that is the big-ticket lottery in the Bengali film industry and like it or not, no one has a better answer today than directors Shiboprosad Mukherjee and Nandita Roy. Willy-nilly, with their last few films, they have become the conscience keepers of middle-class Bangaliana. And they have done it again with Posto. The film checks all the right boxes: Rabindranath and Santiniketan, raising children, grandparents versus parents, the taboo on drinking, tradition versus modernity et al.
Mind you, doing this — getting the pulse of the core audience right in film after film — is not a mean job. And for that, Shibu and Nandita, as we know them, have found ample support — in film after film — in the wise company of Soumitra Chatterjee. In Posto, Soumitra is in his element as the patriarch Dinen Lahiri, chastising his son Arnab (Jisshu U Sengupta) and showering Posto (Argha) with all his love. At the other end of the acting scale is the bubbly Posto — a bundle of energy and verve. Argha tugs at your heartstrings with a naughty-yet-lovable portrayal in a way only a child actor can. Every mom and grandmom is sure to crush on Posto.
The love between grandparents and Posto has more nuances than the war of egos that is sparked when Arnab comes to take Posto back to Kolkata from his parents’ Santiniketan home. Arnab wants to move to the UK with wife and child, but Lahiri Sr refuses to let his grandson go. After all, he has been caring for the child over the years and believes that Arnab, who can’t hold a job but can hold his drink, is not the right man to rear a child.
So far, so good. But what was a simple argument between father and son, escalates into a court case at a lightning, and slightly unbelievable, pace. The court hearing takes up most of the second half, as the judge (but actually the audience) tries to figure out, who’s a better caregiver for Posto — parent or grandparent.
The other stakeholders in the drama do their bit. Paran Bandyopadhay plays himself and that’s good enough. Lily Chakraborty as grandma is the perfect foil to Soumitra. Jisshu nails the slightly confused GenY dad act without breaking into a sweat, but Mimi Chakraborty, who has taken the bold leap from commercial cinema to more meaningful stuff, has miles to go before she can sleep easy. Her performance as a career mother is underwhelming, with no real vibes coming through with either husband or son. If she is low key, Sohini Sengupta more than makes up for it as a fuming, posturing lawyer who is more out of nautanki than cinema.
So that brings us back to our first question. What do our audiences want? To see a slice of their own lives in a darkened theatre? The answer is out there somewhere. But for Shibu and Nandita, the task of being a touchstone to middle-class Bengali morality comes with its own set of challenges and rewards. In Posto, tradition and continuity triumph over modernity, which wants a clean break from the past in the hope of a better future. It’s a compromise solution and we know what compromises have done to us Bengalis in the past few decades.