DVD Prague

DVD Prague
DVD Prague

Run time: 109 min
Rating: 6.3
Genres: Mystery | Romance | Thriller
Director: Ashish R. Shukla
Writers: Rohit Khaitan, Akshendra Mishra
Stars: Chandan Roy Sanyal, Arfi Lamba, Kumar Mayank
A city with a history of heritage, myth and superstition. A passionate architect with hang ups and delusions about love and life. A Czech gypsy girl looking for her identity and love. Add to that a mean friend you cannot get away with and cannot trust. And a left-out leftover of someone who is not really there but does not leave you alone. All of them come together, interfering, manipulating, coaxing and torturing each other as their search for peace, freedom and love continues. A psychologically thrilling ride which takes you to the darkest corners of your mind, the shut-down alleys of your soul and the graveyard of your heart. Written by Anonymous
Plot Keywords: czech, gypsy girl, architect, young romance, murder
Country: India, Switzerland
Release Date: 27 September 2013 (India)


  1. I watched Prague at a Critics Preview and was quite pleasantly surprised.

    The thriller is a rare genre in Indian cinema, let alone a psychological one. It is a difficult genre to capture in reel and very few attempts have been made in Bollywood. Filmmakers lack imagination. Like everything in a capitalistic setup, movies are judged by how much money they make. Talent, as Irrfan's character puts it in 'The Lunchbox', has no value in the country and the average moviegoer is happy to be distracted every Friday with some 'Masti'. Bollywood is nothing but a microcosm of the Indian democracy.

    Prague, therefore, needs to be celebrated. It is a sincere film at many levels and the director must take the kudos for making this film within the humongous constraints he faced being a new comer making a low budget film. Made at a modest budget of about 2 Crores, it attempts to break out of the mold. Written my Sumit Saxena, the co-writer of 'Pyar Ka Punchnama', the story takes you on the guilt trip in the mind of the lead Chandan (played by Chandan Roy Sanyal of 'Kaminey' fame) who fights the demons in his own mind, demons borrowed from the mind of Dostoyevsky's Raskolnikov from 'Crime and Punishment' given shape in the form of the characters of Arfi (played by Arfi Lamba) and Gulshan (played by the impressive and cool débutant Mayank Kumar). Throw in a couple of women (Shubhangi played by Sonia Bindra and the gypsy Elena played by Elena Kazan) and the theme involving desire, love and Chandan's irreconcilable feeling of guilt, and the film takes you on a ride that gathers pace and becomes a roller coaster as one goes along. The story is psychologically taut. The movie opens in Mumbai and shifts to Prague where the city's layered deep character merges with that of Chandan's while its superficial nonchalance is echoed on Mayank's character Gulshan. The three main characters around whom the movie revolves are architecture students who would be a psychologist's delight. The reason Prague works is because of its characters, specially Chandan who has acted superbly in the film, his expressions a connoisseurs delight.

    Chandan portrays the young lead character with the élan of a veteran and passion that makes you feel with him, each emotion that he portrays. Elena is cute and makes you believe in the honesty of the character she plays. The surprise package is the débutant Mayank Kumar who plays the coolest character of them all with his unkempt, carefree yet sharp good looks and even better lines.

    The movie goes back and forth in time to put together the story by way of conversations amongst its characters, the best dialogs delivered between Chandan & Elena and Chandan & Gulshan (Mayank). The highlight of the film is the way Mayank's character Gulshan manipulates Chandan into aspiring to become like him. 'You may or may not get a woman if you Fu** her, but you will definitely get her if you 'Mind-Fu** her', so tells Gulshan to the already disturbed Chandan, a lesson that he does none too well to follow leading to a turbulent romance with Elena and its catastrophic consequence for them. Also interesting are couple of sequences where Gulshan playfully 'Mind-Fu**s' Shubhangi (Sonia Bindra) into falling for him.

    The music  and background score by Atif Afzal capture the essence of the movie, the highlight being the romantic Czech number 'Kap-Kap' pictured on Elena. 'Din Kabhi' captures the Rockstaresque character of Gulshan as he pours himself into the song on-screen. The second half of the film rides on the awesome background score to take the viewer into the underbelly of Chandan's mind as it is overwhelmed by the artistic mysticism of Prague. The cinematography is good and the opening scene of the film where Gulshan walks into the sea sets the tone for the film which later captures the delightful artistic mysteries of the city Prague. The way the camera plays with angles to bring about different shades and aspects of the characters and their nuances and also the city are the highlights of the film.

    Prague though could have been better. The story a little more taut if it had done justice to the psychological aspects of the thriller, probably with a little more research of the subject. The direction could have been better in the first half which is a tad boring for a psychological thriller even though it rightly goes about setting the tone for the second half. Mayank's character Gulshan deserves more space in the film. He is cool with a carefree attitude bordering on 'I-give-a-Fu**', the f-word repeated one too many times through the movie. Gulshan is the reason around whom the lead's obsessions revolve and the scenes involving Mayank (Gulshan) are the most interesting as you will find out when you watch the film. If Mayank becomes a little more comfortable with the camera and the spotlight on him, we have a star in the making. Considering the film is called 'Prague', more aspects of the city could have been been played with in the story to do justice to the title, or, the film could have been titled differently.

    All said and done, Prague is not your masterpiece, it has its flaws, perhaps many, but it is an honest and sincere film that one must watch. The genre does not get its due in India. Paraphrasing Sigmund Freud, whose school of Psychoanalysis the movie borrows richly from, 'We are all mad, the only difference between the truly mad and the normal is that the truly mad are mad all at once while the normal ones are crazy little by little everyday'. Watch Prague to see the madness that inhabits all of us as it takes gigantic proportions on screen and immerses you in its layers.

  2. Writing a review about 'Prague' will be quite a task. The key factor being that the movie takes a while to sink in. It has all the elements that make it fit the bill of a film that would be well received at film festivals. It's a psychological thriller shot at an interesting location and some brilliant acting by relatively unknown faces.

    Chandan (Chandan Roy Sanyal) is an architect who bags a project at Prague and he is to be accompanied by Gulshan (Mayank Kumar), his carefree buddy. Chandan's constant companion happens to be a mysterious Arfi (Arfi Lamba). But, what lies beneath is Chandan's battle with schizophrenia and his struggle with relationships.

    Early on, during the openings credits, the movie sets the tone on what to expect in the Czech capital. Prague is shown to be a place with architectural wonders. And this turns out to be so for Chandan who is working on finding an idea for his project.

    One evening, he chances by Elena (Elena Kazan), a danseuse and very soon, the two develop a bond. By the way, it's so convenient that she had spent some time in India, that too in Chandan's hometown of Kolkata and knows a bit of Bengali.

    The rest of the story which includes a series of flashbacks, is better not discussed, for it could reveal the suspense. Nonetheless, despite it seeming like a 'thriller', it was possible to predict what the twists could be. Although, there are this cannot take anything away from the fact that it is a well-written film and the dialog has clever lines.

    Most of the writing effort seems to have gone into development of its characters. Noteworthy among them is the role of Gulshan who is seen 'living his life to the fullest', a spirit that Chandan admires, but fails to emulate to due to other issues that hold him back. Elena on the other hand is beautiful and caring, but has a strong desire to give meaning to her gypsy roots, a reference to the Roma tribes of the region.

    The scenes on the screen are shaded by dark undertones, the heady mixture of cigarette smoke, drugs, alcohol and women. Those that involve Prague's architecture are shown well. One scene that is exceptional is Chandan clicking pictures of his muse in a gypsy avatar where Kazan looks stunning.

    Prague does have a few flaws. Despite it meaning to be a suspense, the plot can be worked out. It also has moments where it gets too involved into its characters that it is distracting at times. There are some repetitive moments which can be defended as having dramatic value. In all fairness, its genre is challenging in itself.

    Made on a small budget and actors with no name-recall, the film is a bold experiment. Director Ashish R Shukla, who is also credited with the story, needs to be applauded for the effort. The newer breed of directors pushing creative limits is a positive trend that must be encouraged. It's a pleasant break from Bollywood's blockbuster culture.

    Verdict: Don't shy away from 'Prague' because it isn't a star-studded big budget flick or that it lacks item numbers, if you are keen about those, then stay away. 'Prague' is a serious film and a bold attempt by a débutant director. Despite some of its shortcomings, a film connoisseur will be happy he watched this film.

  3. Prague is one beautiful city with spectacular world heritage sites and astonishing architectural monuments of all sorts. Being a crucial location for catastrophic World War II events, the city itself has a mysteriously spirited feel to it. Look at those sulking mutilated figurines to be reminiscent of the tragedies happened long ago or that 'bone chapel' seeking peace and humanity in middle of countless human bones…& you will know that no other setting can be so appropriate than this enigmatic city of Prague when it comes to paint down the complexities of human mind that deal with harsh reality and even harsher world of imagination and hallucination simultaneously.

    Ashish R. Shukla's PRAGUE is an awe-inspiring mind-bending psychological thriller that stands out from many efforts in the recent past. Weaved in an innovative narration style, film focuses on the life of a promising architect in search of peace of mind, love and redemption!

    Chandan (Chandan Roy Sanyal in a tailor-made role with an applause- worthy performance) is in love with Shubhangi (confident Sonia Bindra); his perfect soul mate seems to be but nothing is as it seems. Seeing is disbelieving. And as Chandan happens to see his dead friend Arfie, guiding in his most of decisions and beliefs in life, another 'always- on-weed' 'high-on-life' friend Gulshan (Kumar Mayank in an impressing look and characterization) is found under same sheet with Shubhangi. Story takes a leap when Chandan is in Prague for his ambitious monumental project on World War II victims. This time, a gypsy Girl (Ellena Kazan surprises with her ability to act besides just looking ravishing) finds a place in Chandan's heart but to his wildest fear makes a come back as Gulshan. Rest is how what you see is far from what you believe.

    PRAGUE is an independent film and carries off that tag very confidently. It persistently involves itself in creating freshness in its approach. So, besides that visually stunning picturesque camera work and the edgy- crispy editing hands, there is also the skillfully layered writing that keeps you on your toes either with interesting narration style (story goes back & forth to interlink happenings and divided into chapters to keep focus on the highlighted part) and the aromatic suspenseful twists & turns in the tale.

    The plot here doesn't leave much scope to create perplexity in viewer's mind because of lesser number of characters than fingers in your hands. And the characters are also real, simple, straight yet complicated in their own way.

    Film if belongs to anyone solely, it is Chandan Roy Sanyal who outshines everyone else in the frame. Here is a talent that has never been explored to its maximum and demands much more than skinny supporting roles. Watch him in emotional scenes where he is struggling to manage his connect to relationships in both the world…in real & in hallucinated one.

    I am sure you haven't heard of it much before its release, but for one who believes in experimental cinema that dares to break league and norms…this is a huge huge pleasurable surprise of the year. PRAGUE is Trippe, witty, confident, engaging, innovative, astonishing and an exhilarating psychological ride you must take for a mind-bending experience and to trust the fact that this is the best period of indie cinema in India. Go with no expectations and you might come out going ga-ga over it.

    Special Note: Do not go if you don't know what the term 'Indie film' stands for!

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