The London Indian Film Festival is known to bring hard hitting, thought-provoking and compelling stories, and now in their seventh year, it seems to be getting better and better. Brought to the capital this year was one such film helmed by debutant director Amit Ranjan Biswas, who tells the story of two different characters coming together by one motive: suicide. In an attempt to send a message to his audience about his own experiences as a child psychiatrist, Biswas has put together what seems to be a simple story. However, has he managed to make an impact with his viewers, or will the audiences go away not feeling any impact on the subject at all?

Setting his things aside for what is to be his last day, Santanu (Soumitra Chatterjee) steps out of his house and makes his journey to the Bally Bridge, Kolkata. Upon reaching the bridge, he takes his shoes off, and as he peers down to the sea below, he notices a girl (Sandhya Mridul), also doing the same. However, upon seeing the girl begin to climb, through impulse Santanu runs to her rescue forgetting his own motives for being there. He then takes her home and decides to look after her until the police find out who and where her family are. However, as he gets her checked out by the doctor, he soon finds out that she has been through immense trauma, which leads to her muteness and agitated childlike behaviour, becoming the reason of her wanting the jump of the bridge. Thus Santanu himself finds a new lease in life to look after the girl whose name he eventually finds is Tanima .

It’s fair to say that without Biswas’ professional background, the effectiveness of this film would be lost. Biswas has made a simple yet compelling film, where the audiences are immediately engrossed into each character. The decision in having his two protagonists who have normal yet very different backgrounds works perfectly in having a wider age ranged audiences have someone or something to relate to and or sympathise with. The director has indeed ensured that his views on the way any type of mental health needs more than just medical help, where a lot can come of human contact with compassion, awareness, patience and empathy, create a huge positive impact on not only the person, but a society as a whole. Biswas has put together a fantastic story, where his audiences have been able to connect with the characters and attempt to understand their motives.

Chatterjee is nothing short of brilliant as the heart-warming Santanu. Through his performance, the viewer can’t help but wonder if he is also playing himself, as his character tries to understand what the girl he has brought to house is going through, and how he can best help her. As the film depicts his own story, he is able to capture the audience’s thoughts in an instant, as they see his views change, he becomes more lovable as the film goes on. Already having a number of brilliant roles from the Indian Film Industry, Mridul has always performed to a great standard. Playing the vulnerable and abused Tanima, Mridul goes way beyond anyone’s expectations, to the point where she isn’t even recognised as herself until later. Known for taking on versatile roles Mridul’s outstanding performance gives the audiences something to react to. Indulging into her character, it’s easy to see that she has represented exactly what Biswas wanted this character to be. It can’t go without saying that the addition of Mamata Shankar adds a special magical touch to the story. Playing her role as Chatterjee’s wife, she represents the essence of what a woman holds in a man’s life. The audience pine for her as much as Chatterjee’s character from the moment she comes on screen.

The music of the film adds that extra mood of the film. With scores composed by Kolkota music director Dishari, the songs and instrumentals help carry the film forward, in giving a glimpse of the character’s lives from the past and the present. Heard in all the right places, the viewer realises how the music becomes a part of the film in a way of almost being it’s narrator. Being the sense of sound doing justice to each scene where dialogue isn’t needed, Biswas has enabled his audience to take in his vision as much as through the music as everything else.

‘Bridge’ is a film catered to all. Biswas has put on an outstanding project, where audiences of all kinds, young and old, no matter what their views will have a much deeper understanding of the subjects of mental health and what drives people to do things others may not understand at first glance. Though the film does end a little quickly, it does make the viewer wanting to see more. The humbleness of this film is something that will definitely tug at one’s heart-strings, and is a perfect example of a great story being made from a simple idea and a great team. Rating: 4.5/5