A potent premise that loses way after bringing us close to the edge of the couch, Lost reminds us that well-begun is only half-done. Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury who gave us the hard-hitting Pink, here sacrifices the pace and piquancy in order to generate a politically-correct drama. For a film that draws from a real-life case to comment on the changing socio-political landscape, the message of hope at the end feels manufactured.
Set in laid-back Kolkata, Lost follows intrepid journalist Vidhi Sahani’s (Yami Gautam) pursuit to solve the mystery behind the sudden disappearance of Ishan Bharti (Tushar Pandey), a theatre activist.
Prima facie, it seems like an ordinary case but as the layers unfold, we get to see how the ambition of a girl fractures a relationship and becomes a political opportunity for a crafty minister. In the tale of two journalists, Ankita Chaudhary (Pia Bajpai) is an emerging television journalist who is in love with Ishan. But when she catches the eye of powerful minister Varman (Rahul Khanna), cracks begin to emerge in their relationship. She seeks political power and Varman makes everybody believe that the young activist has crossed over to the Naxalite movement. Vidhi, however, feels otherwise. The reality is somewhere in between, but the path to it is somehow not as riveting as it seems. Some of the scenes stand out and the performances are persuasive, but they fail to cover the flaws in the writing.
After Vicky Donor, it is perhaps the first film where Yami gets to play a well-rounded character and the competent actor doesn’t disappoint. She looks the part of a hard-nosed journalist who is in danger of becoming an activist, while investigating a story that has a strong human angle.
As her grandfather with a spine, Pankaj Kapur is pugnacious as ever. The scenes between Kapur and Yami are full of affection and provide a strong moral lining to the narrative.
Rahul sounds convincing as a double-faced politician and resembles some of our young politicians who seem to have come straight out of a front-loading washing machine but carry layers of slime in their inner recesses. Neil Bhoopalam has become typecast as the actor who efficiently plays second fiddle to a career-oriented female protagonist. Pia also shows promise in a half-baked morally ambiguous role but after a point, it seems like Aniruddha has lost control of his characters and they turn up wherever they want. The jerks in editing make it all the more apparent. It seems the makers want to expose the muck without getting into it.
While the dramatic build-up for a big story evokes interest and serves the script, it is hard to believe that a news organisation holds on to an important story for so long just because Vidhi hasn’t covered all the angles of the mystery. While the performances are convincing, the presentation of the news business is a tad idealistic.
After the build-up, Aniruddha becomes more interested in ticking the customary boxes on the working environment for girls, long-distance relationships, journalism as a profession, and familial pressures without integrating them cogently into the main strand. They might serve the purpose of a daily soap, but don’t add much to a politically-sharp narrative. By the time he returns to the point, he loses connection. It is only Yami who doesn’t give up; she keeps knocking at one’s conscience.
Lost is currently streaming on ZEE5