I know it’s a bit late to write about It Happened in Calcutta as it was released somewhere back in February this year. Since the trailer spoke of the Cholera outbreak days, I was keen on watching this show. While watching the very first episode, I realised that the show is far from what I expected it to be. Bored, disappointed, I gave up and did not watch any further.
A few days back, I came across the song Dua Ban Jaa on YouTube, and within no time, I fell in love with it. It being a video song made me curious about the love story this time. So I thought of giving It Happened in Calcutta a second chance. My opinion did not change a bit. I now have a valid reason for why not everyone deserves a second chance.
I guess that’s my It Happened In Calcutta review – just a one-liner. If that’s it, why am I writing an entire post for this web series? Because I simply couldn’t not talk about how uncool it is to romanticise toxic people and toxic relationships.
I wonder why the entertainment industry has always been obsessed with the playboys and the sati savitri type girls falling in love with them? I think it’s time we start calling toxic men, toxic and not heroes. Shahrukh Khan in Darr was a villain, Urmila Matondkar in Pyaar Tune Kya Kiya was a villain, Kajol in Gupt was also a villain. Why? Because these characters did not define love, they exhibited toxicity. These characters were flawed. Though they were in love, they did not deserve love in return.
The same is applicable to Ronobir of It Happened in Calcutta. I have no issues with the kind of character he was. There are playboys around. The character was real. It all becomes problematic the moment you call this guy a hero, the moment you decide that this will be a love story and not a hate story.
Again, girls can love assholes. Unfortunately, unconditionally and till eternity, so I am again not saying that how can Kusum love a guy like Ronobir. Having said that, a woman will never love the man who whispers sweet nothings to convince her to abort her child and then runs away while she waits for him to be there for her while she aborts their child. While I say all of it, you cannot ignore the period this story is set in. It’s set in the 1960s-70s when abortion was illegal in India. Forget about it being legal or illegal, how did India perceive a single, pregnant woman back then? Now imagine the scenario where a man convinces the woman to abort the child with the help of her male friend (a medical student) in a hostel, again an illegal thing to do in the 60s. And then, instead of showing up, the man disappears, he simply disappears and leaves for London.
London is another story. This man pretends to be in love with his childhood friend so that he easily gets a ticket to London. Again, she is just his ticket to London. While in a relationship with her, he continues to cheat on her. While Kusum is in the hostel aborting the child, he flies to London. No matter what happens to the women he is emotionally abusing, his life turns out exactly according to his plan. He marries his childhood friend and becomes a Doctor. In short, his life is perfect.
Not emotionally involved in any of the women he is with, using them to fulfill his motives is emotional abuse which is unacceptable.
After a few years, Ronobir returns to India where he meets Kusum again.
Till here, you look at this person as a flawed character and wait for the story to unfold. What unfolds next shocked me further. The man has changed now because his wife, whom he never loved, has died of Cholera. It shattered him so much that after her death, he decided to devote his life to Cholera patients. On the other hand, he is still the same when it comes to women. But yes, after meeting Kusum, he remembers that his wife while dying had requested him to not refuse love if love walks into his life again. So he decides that Kusum is the right girl for him as she has always loved him. He then all of a sudden falls in love with her and tries to convince her that she still loves him and hence should reconcile with him. Nowhere did the series ever show that Ronobir had feelings for Kusum, or had even slightly liked her when they were together. The makers were very clear that he is a player. Even when he leaves for London while leaving Kusum behind, he confesses that he is unapologetic and not a bit guilty about what he has done.
The makers should stop labeling toxicity as love. If Kabir Singh was toxic, so was Ronobir Chatterjee. If a person consciously puts you through emotional, physical, and mental pain, you cannot call it love.
There are many loopholes in the story but I guess, calling this story a love story is such a big blunder that other flaws can easily be overlooked.
‘Nothing about the performances?’ if you ask, they are absolutely not worth mentioning. If the team finalised Naghma Rizwan for Kusum after looking for the perfect face for over 2 years, I think they should have looked a little harder and waited a little longer for the right person.
Before I end this post, I have a few questions. If you have answers to these, please drop them in the comments below:
- Did people actually use the word ‘f**k’ back in the 60s?
- Were women so comfortable with kissing a random man or have casual sex in that era?
P.S: Let’s not make heroes out of bastards.