Pankh is a story about life imitating art in a grotesque and bizarre way. This film seeks to probe into the mechanism that operates behind the creation of a dream. It highlights a phenomenon that was peculiar of casting children in roles opposite to their natural gender. This film purports to delve into the psyche of one such person.
Jerry (Maradona Rebello) as a child artiste portrayed girls’ roles in most of his films and under the alias name of baby Kusum (read: won a National Award for the same) he became a child prodigy. Against the wishes of his father, he was forced by his mother, Mary (Lilette Dubey) to act from a very young age for the silver screen. But soon, in the teen and adulthood, Jerry starts to resent his mother and the decisions made by her. Drugs and alcohol take over his life along with his fantasy world where he visualises Nandini (Bipasha Basu) whenever he wants. When Mary forces Jerry for an audition, the skeletons in the closet revive, forcing him to relive the embarrassment of facing the camera now as an adult.
Director Sudipto Chattopadhyay embraces the complexity of a bewildered mind and the after effects of early traumatic events. He applies stylistic and structural tricks (he puts off the "Who I Am" chapter quite early) to create the most compelling portrait possible, reflecting a reverential but very different agenda from that of his subject. The cinematography is top-notch giving a statuesque effect along with flamboyance. The flick is temperamental and loses its essence at many places failing to connect with the characters.
Maradona Rebello looks convincing as a confused and suppressed man struggling with identity crises. Bipasha Basu moves around aimlessly in the film and fails to give life to her role. Lilette Dubey is apt and portrays her character with panache. Mahesh Manjrekar and Ronit Roy and the rest of the cast fit the bill well.
Music is blah and so is the background score. As this one hits reality, many cuss words are present in the dialogue which does leave an impact. The ending where Jerry cuts his phallus and cries in pain, is enormously dramatic and leaves the audience as well as the film at a high point.
Overall, this fails to deliver the plot, clearly. What is the crux of the film? What message is it trying to give?