Between its cryptic, confused politics and its lackluster filmmaking, Lost is a germ of an idea waiting to be found, notes Sukanya Verma.

The suppression of the voice of dissidents and minorities through unconstitutional means, fabricated allegations, and mysterious disappearances are routine news.

It is precisely this apathy that director Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury addresses towards the idealism of an investigative journalist in Calcutta.

Allegedly inspired by real events, Lost tells the story of Vidhi (Yami Gautam), a gritty crime reporter determined to uncover the truth behind the disappearance of Dalit theater actor Ishan Bharti (Tushar Pandey), while the police insist on labeling him a Maoist radical.

Spreading slander is tough business, but Ritesh Shah’s dialogue has an effortless bite.Kambakht hai ya desh bhakt, mujhe nahi pata.’

Vidhi’s sympathy for the missing man’s troubled mother and sister, victims of everyday patriarchy, encourages her to pursue this case head-on, almost like a detective.

In undercooked subplot after undercooked subplot, Vidhi learns about Ishan’s girlfriend (Pia Bajpayee), a former news anchor now preparing to become an MLA after a learned politician (Rahul Khanna) takes her under his wing, a street kid who the Ishan saw looking for a mentor figure from his theater group, still reeling from the shock of Ishan’s fate.

Trouble at work, intimidation tactics ordered by her detractors, difficulties in long-distance relationships, estranged relationships with parents are additional headaches Vidhi endures when she’s not gathering information from a retired informant or interviewing a long list of people, including politicians and police officers in history their search.

Lost has a relevant premise, but it’s as if most of the film is still taking shape in the filmmaker’s mind.

Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury’s painfully sluggish storytelling and mangled script make it difficult to care for his protagonist’s persistent efforts.

Except for vidhi, the presence of no one has any value in the grand scheme of things.

Despite the promise of complexity and nuance, Lost refuses to delve deeper into conversations about human rights, extremist groups or the nexus between politics and the media.

Its sole purpose is to dub Vidhi’s virtue, which feels most authentic when the feisty Yami Gautam lets go of her vigilance and conveys more caring than curiosity. A tender moment between her and Ishaan’s sister at the legendary Flurys restaurant on Park Street is a case in point.

Be it the egg rolls, chowmein, kulhad chainarrow streets or chipped walls, cinematographer Avik Mukhopadhyay captures the vibrant mood and sensory highlights of the City of Joy in all its characteristic glory, but fails to transform it into a character Kahaani.

Apart from Vidhi and her Bhagavad Gita quoting grandfather (a reliably solid Pankaj Kapur) as the proverbial Krishna to her Arjun who in a ‘thing or sahi‘dilemma, Lost shows little interest in developing any of his full-scale characters into interesting people.

Rahul Khanna’s pleasant presence is at odds with the sly fox he portrays.

Pia Bajpayee is a convincing performer, but her one-note ambition is stereotypical at its mildest, while the man at the center of all the chaos, Tushar Pandey, evokes more bewilderment than pity.

Why would a pasta sipping slacker want to get married without doing anything consistent, such a big threat to a big shot beats me.

Between its cryptic, confused politics and its lackluster filmmaking, Lost is a germ of an idea waiting to be found.

Lost Stream to ZEE5.

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