As a child, I sometimes didn’t quite like what was served for dinner. I would stare at my plate not wanting to eat but I didn’t have a choice, of course. I would labour through each morsel and half way through the meal I realized that it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Picnic was that plate of dinner for me.
Adapted from Rabindranath Tagore’s romantic novella ‘Shesher Kobita’, Picnic is a story of how two people find each other and discover romance. Amit Ray (Uditvanu Das), a barrister from Cambridge meets Lavanya (Shahana Chatterjee) on a holiday that Lavanya was on with her friend Shikha (Sohini Mukherjee Roy). Amit is shown as a mature, light hearted gentleman who is clear about what he wants from life and from a life partner. Lavanya is a strong opinionated woman who discovers what she wants from a man as she ‘dates’ Amit. Shikha is a ‘happy and sorted’ divorcee who facilitates the love story.
I watched the movie with several questions in my mind. Firstly, the setting - ‘Shesher Kobita’ was set in Shillong. This movie was set in Goa. No wait this was Shillong. Or was it Goa? Why were there coconut trees and sea in Shillong? Why were they wearing woolens in Goa?
Also, what was Shikha doing in the movie, except that she facilitated the love story (read teenager-like nudging to encourage Lavanya to date Amit).
The film is interspersed with Rabindranath Tagore’s poems sung melodiously by Shomshukla herself but come as a knee jerk at many places.
Picnic has strong messaging though – about youth today who ‘explore love’ rather than ‘love at first sight’, who are beyond conventional ways of looking at love, marriage or separation. The film is shot in the magic hour (just after sunrise, just before sunset) which builds a backdrop of ‘Shesher Kobita’ to the modern day love story.
Shahana did a great job as a young-and-opinionated, loving-but-not-vulnerable woman. Uditvanu’s delivery of the role made the character look like an undergraduate, infatuated lover than a Cambridge educated, mature barrister. He (and even Sohini) deliver witty dialogues with poor timing.
This is director Shomshukla’s second film (after ‘Sandcastle’). While in a completely different setting as Sandcastle, this film also portrays strong women protagonists.
If you must watch the movie, watch it for the messaging & dialogues, for Shanana and to enjoy the Rabindra-Sangeet.
Rating: 2 on 5
Based in Mumbai, Deepti is a travel writer and a content builder for various projects. As an avid movie-watcher, she believes film makers should respect the audiences’ intelligence and need for ‘real entertainment’. She also writes about her travels with her toddler on her blog - neverjetlagged.blogspot.com.