Season’s Greetings deals with a mother and daughter relationship, set in Kolkata, West Bengal, India.
The 45-minute film is about Romita (Celina Jaitly Haag) who decides to introduce her live-in partner Usmaan (Azhar Khan) to her mother Suchitra (Lillette Dubey).
Suchitra stays in a bungalow with her maid Chapala (Shree Ghatak).
On a September noon, they visit Suchitra, a lady who lives alone after being separated from her husband.
Ironically, she lives in a house ‘Utsab’ (meaning Festival) but she is lonely, often lost in her thoughts.
Music is her only companion since her daughter travels due to work assignments and stays in a different city.
Daughter’s homecoming is always celebrated in Bengal, just like Durga Puja. So after years, Suchitra leaves no stone unturned to welcome her daughter and her fiancee Usmaan.
Over a five-course Bengali meal and few glasses of wine, they discover each other.
While Romita thought that she was the one waiting to astound her mother with Usmaan’s presence in her life, she didn’t know that her mother had bigger surprises stored for her.
With every passing moment, Romita and Suchitra unfold their mysteries and eventually comes to a juncture where lines get blurred.
This film is a tribute to celebrated filmmaker Rituparno Ghosh.
For cinema connoisseurs, it aims to be a delight to see the fleeting references from Ghosh’s films that comes (overlaps) at various moments.
The movie also deals with LGBTQIA and article 377 (Indian Penal Code) issue, in a subtle manner.
Initially, I was afraid that this too would be another interfaith love story and how an estranged mother accepts this.
But thankfully, this is not the case and it goes on to being a more poignant and relevant narrative.
From social media to sexual harassment, this moving picture also includes dialogue about issues surrounding today’s world.
Even with dialogues like: “Yeh Guru Dutt Wala Pyaar Hai. Sex In The City Waale Nahin Samjhenge”, there is the distinguishing ideology of romance.
Given that this is a tribute to Ghosh’s filmmaking style, we too see aspects of his filmmaking styles in this cinematic expression.
Remember the lonely homemaker, who is visited by her ex-flame in Raincoat?
In this intense and poignant film, the ex-lover is essayed to be the figure of development which sort of questions the lonesome housewife… Providing an inhibited definition of their current situations.
This camaraderie is represented through the mother-daughter relationship in Season’s Greetings.
As such, director Ram Kamal Mukherjee brilliantly paints their bond and differing lifestyles from the first frame.
Mukherjee (who also pens a beautiful poem, narrate by Lillette Dubey), conveys the idea of concealed truths and therefore, underlining the crux of the film.
Steadily, there is a build-up of drama and anticipation.
As soon as Romita walks through the door, the viewer can predict that a storm is brewing and the conversations leading up to the main drama is quite subtle and natural.
The vibrant setting of Bengal is highly appealing, it paints a modern landscape of this culturally enriched city, but yet retaining its roots/cultures.
Through the recreations of legendary Rabindranath Tagore songs, we get a sense of ‘identity’ and how it’s important to accept oneself.
Interestingly, a supporting character’s life is written as a means to foreshadow what could follow later in the movie.
My only ‘criticism’ (if I can call it that) is that the movie ends when it reaches this point.
What I wanted to see is how after the narrative’s peak point, the other characters react to this situation.
In fact, the adaptation aspect would’ve been intriguing to see, but nonetheless, it’s a good endeavour.
The principal performances also work in favour of the cinematic piece.
Celina Jaitly Haag makes her comeback in this and it’s wonderful to see her in a role which really justifies her calibre as an actor.
Not only is her screen presence solid, but her expressions and dialogue delivery are effervescent.
Even during the emotional quotients, she manages to shine… Plus, her camaraderie with Lillette Dubey is heartwarming.
We certainly deserve to see more of Celina on celluloid.
Lillete Dubey is a thespian and yet again, she proves what a marvellous talent she is. It seems like Lillete really got into the skin of Suchitra’s role.
The viewer truly resonates with her inner solitude. It’s always a treat to see her on-screen.
Shree Ghatak and Azhar Khan are decent in delivering their parts and with what they are given.
Having said that, Dubey and Haag are the real show-stealers.
On the whole, Season’s Greetings is not only a heartfelt tribute to Rituparno Ghosh, but also a poetic love letter to Bengali cinema, honouring the LGBTQIA community in India.
Ram Kamal Mukherjee proves that his direction is on par with his writing… He has the knack of storytelling.
Furthermore, the movie marks a delightful comeback for Celina Jaitly Haag and it is so pleasing to see her in a role which really justifies her talent as an actor.
Given that we are living in uncertain times, surrounded by doom and gloom, these next 45 minutes will be well spent watching this piece of art.
⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4/5 stars)