Director: Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury
Cast: Yami Gautam Dhar, Pankaj Kapur, Rahul Khanna, Piaa Bajpai, Tushar Pandey
Hindi films have a thing or two for news media and journalism. We have seen countless movies where the story is about journalists and their profession. But very few films have actually managed to get the feel and fervour of a typical newsroom. Basically, Bollywood hasn’t understood the news media or its personnel. Even a highly-rated 1986 film New Delhi Times dramatized the whole thing.
So I approached Lost, knowing that it is about the pursuit of a woman journalist, with some circumspection and even trepidation.
A few minutes into Lost, you see Vidhi (Yami Gautam Dhar) in a police station where a husband and wife have come to report the disappearance of the latter’s brother Ishaan (Tushar Pandey). This case piques the curiosity of Vidhi, who works in the bureau of an online news outfit. And she plunges headlong into the case of the missing man and starts her own investigation.
This is where Lost, like many Bollywood movies before, loses the plot. Newsrooms have no time or money or latitude to let a reporter pursue a missing person case. The investigations carried out by reporters in top-notch news outlets are of a different type. And when you don’t buy the essential premise of the story, it becomes a tad difficult to wrap your head around the rest of the plot.
The other thing about Lost is that it tries too hard to incorporate many of the trending events into the story. As a strategy to hook the audience into something popular is not bad. But only when it is done with adequate backing in the script it comes across as a clever-by-half strategy.
Among the issues that Lost tries to shoehorn into the story are casteism, political corruption, media venality, police highhandedness and social apathy. It is almost as if they wanted to tick all the boxes that would make the film come across as being politically correct.
Director Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury’s previous work Pink also carried a strong message (‘No means No’). But it wasn’t loud or preachy. Instead, the whole thing was smartly laced into a believable and relatable story. Here the story is all over the place.
In Lost, the missing man is labelled a naxal. There is also an elusive Maoist leader, and Vidhi searches for him too. And then there is a corrupt politician (Rahul Khanna) whose sullied hands are every till, as it were. The missing naxal’s girlfriend (Piaa Bajpai) is hand in cahoots with the politico. And she is given political backing to contest and win an election. This so-called twist is facile and unconvincing.
The relationship between Vidhi and her grandfather (Pankaj Kapur) provides the film with some warm and endearing moments. Even here, the relationship, while being winsome, does not move beyond the typical screen banalities.
On the acting front. with most of the characters not being fleshed out in writing, there isn’t much for anyone to do anything impressive. But Yami is earnest. She gets some brownie points for being steadfast. But like in A Thursday, she is let down by the feckless script and unimaginative handling. The photography by Avik Mukhopadhyay, who has brought out Kolkata beautifully in his frames, and Shantanu Moitra’s unobtrusive score serves the film well. But those are too little to make amends.
Lost seems totally lost, thereby living up to the title in a rather unintended way. The film has its heart in the right place. But what use does it serve if it does not tick properly?
Director: Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury
Date Created: 2023-02-16 21:36