Tooth Pari review: An earnestly rooted Indian vampire
What: Tooth Pari – is rooted in Indian reality, has its sincere and awe-inspiring moments.
Filmmakers have a new fixation – Dentists and Dentistry. Last year’s Freddy, starring Kartik Aryan, explored the plight of a docile dentist who turns violent seeks revenge from his girlfriend when she deceives her. Writer-Director Pratim Das Gupta’s Tooth Pari explores the fetish for blood in an unusual and intriguing tale of vampires set in the city of joy – Kolkata.
Tooth Pari synopsis
A rebellious vampire, Rumi (Tanya Maniktala, of A Suitable Boy fame) with a broken tooth falls for a shy dentist, Doc Roy (Shantanu Maheshwari, of Gangubai Kathiawadi fame) on the streets of Kolkata – leading to a collision between the human and mystical forces. A love story kicks off between the two when Rumi loses one of her ‘Sharpies’ during a hunt and visits the doc. On the other hand, an investigation, helmed by a snarky cop, ensues, leading to a dramatic turn of events.
Pratim has an exciting premise that’s dabbled very rarely in Bollywood – Vampires. Lending voice to his fresh story, there is a splendid star cast comprising many of the Bengali actors – Saswata Chatterjee, playing Roy, Tilottama Som, Revathi, Sikander Kher and Adil Hussain who inhabit the lived in milieu, lending an unmistakable authenticity to the narrative. But the screenplay (Dasgupta and Sejal Pasichia) is tedious and exhausts you with its pace.
Most of its parts have been in the night in Kolkata – which altogether creates an elegant visual imagery exuding a lovely vibe. The hospital, the theatres, the fashion, dentist chamber, taxis, the police uniform feel real, thanks to Subhankar Bhar’s cinematography.
Shantanu is emerging as a terrific talent and Tooth Pari is a testament to this acting prowess. The acting is spontaneous and a charmer – reminding you of the coyness of Vicky Kaushal in his hey days. Tanya dives into the complex trenches of the eponymous character, Rumi, serving a delicate mix of personas – savage yet sweet, feral yet fetching, wild yet adorable. Her eloquent eyes traverse myriad emotions with a palpable intensity. Together, they are a fantastic couple.
I personally felt Tilottama Shome’s highly theatrical Meera could have been explored much more. She is uninhibited and deliciously wild – note the sequence where she appoints one from her clan to have a first taste of blood. Its superbly done. Saswata Chatterjee emerges as her worthy and hilarious counterpoint to Roy’s overwrought parents, played at just the right pitch by. An extended sequence in which David and Meera meet the overtly high-pitched senior Roys ( Rajatava Dutta and Swaroopa Ghosh) is comic gold.
Sikandar Kher gained around 15 kilos to play the character of the alcoholic cop Karthik and internalizes the character’s anguish – it’s another dazzling feather on his repertoire which is on an unrelenting trajectory with films and shows like Monica and Arya. Revathi plays the mysterious and enchanting vampire hunter (of the Catmandus clan), and the strikingly attired witch Luna Lunca with dollops of wit, wild and wicked.
Strongly written sequences, slick production values, and an array of memorable characters make up for the plot contrivances and patches of dubious acting. But there is a lot to savour in this 8-part web series, which turns out to be an eclectic mix of sweet and savory.
I go with 3 stars out of 5 for Tooth Pari. Streaming on Netflix from 20th April 2023.