Hemlock Society is a 2012 release.
The film is a highly stylized dark comedy and uses reverse psychology to bring out the fear of death among the suicidal.
The story revolves around a young and independent girl, Meghna, who feels emotionally bankrupt – she is unhappy with her father’s remarriage and feels worse when her fiancée rejects her. She goes into a drugstore and buys more sleeping pills than she needs and one Anand Kar( pl. note , translation is ‘be joyful’) spots and follows her. He introduces himself as the founder of Hemlock Society which assists people in the perfect suicide. He takes her to the society where she undergoes training (which is actually a faux training) for three days after which she declares that she no longer wants to commit suicide.
The plot is predictable. What makes the movie interesting is the ‘learnings’ that the training sessions provide. For instance, Anand Kar accuses Meghna of being a ‘dukho-vilasini’ – a person who revels in sorrow. And this might be true of many who contemplate suicide. During the ‘training’, one of the instructors (who is actually a trained actor ) suggests that there is really not much difference between committing suicide and living your life. A ponderable, that.
The dialogue is often whacky and deliberately absurd; the scenes are a well designed sequence of the real and the theatrical. Both these devices delineate the act of suicide from the backdrop of life and effectively show its utter senselessness, by stripping it of its tragic element. The treatment is a refreshing change from the usual melodrama that shows suicide attempters as victims.
These bits of brilliance are somewhat dulled by the over the top joie de vivre of the principal character Anand Kar, designed along the lines of Anand of the eponymous Hindi film of the 70s . The character tries too hard to connect to a younger Hindi-film watching audience, though Parambrata Chatterjee’s natural charm does make things better. Meghna dresses trendy, smiles with difficulty and utters the banal lines she is given with minimal lip movement. Rupa Ganguly and Dipankar Dey do an accomplished job as Meghna’s step mother and father, respectively. The love angle between Meghna and Anand could also have been avoided.
Nevertheless, Hemlock Society is different and interesting and there is a certain skewedness about many scenes that needs to be appreciated.
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