The first half of Cobalt Blue will indefinitely remind you of Call Me By Your Name but the storytelling here doesn't hold up to the level of aesthetics that the film has.
If you have seen Call Me By Your Name then you definitely remember the all-consuming romance between Oliver and Elio, that summer-like beautiful and sensual vibe, the heartbreak, and of course the picturesque metaphorical art and Itlay. A lot of this can be felt and many specific things from cycles, to locations to the orange, will remind you of the film, especially the first half. But only if Cobalt Blue had that deep-seated honesty, and emotional philosophical weight of the film then it could have been a masterpiece. But as Tanay says in the film, whenever he tries to write a novel he always ends up writing poetry, it holds true to the film as well. Because with all of its beautiful aesthetics and picturesque cinematography, it's a poem hiding under the guise of a film. Each and every frame appeals to the eyes but unfortunately, the script doesn't hold up to it.
Tanay (Neelay Mehendale) is a young literature student and an aspiring author living in Kerala with his mother, Sharda (Geetanjali Kulkarni), father, Mr. Dixit (Shishir Sharma), elder brother, Aseem (Anant Joshi), and younger sister, Anuja (Anjali Sivaraman) after having shifted from Mumbai. Neil Bhoopalam, Tanay's literature teacher is his sole confidant who encourages him and offers books, and films to read and watch. Trouble starts off when an unknown paying guest (Prateik Babbar) comes to live in the room upstairs. Tanay is enamored by him and goes on a sensual journey with him with no clue whatsoever that he's in love with the same guy that his hockey-playing sister is too. He only finds out when they both run off together and just his sister returns home after a while.
The film's strength doesn't lie at all in its storytelling because if you just look at the script, a lot of it doesn't make sense given that there's no connection between things happening. But when you give in to the picturesque cinematography, production design, aesthetic frames, colors, art, literature, and the whole summery and sensual vibe of the film, you'll quite like it! These elements are very much in touch with the exploration of one's own body and sensuality, and with the blue flowing everywhere like from the stairs and Beethoven’s 'Moonlight Sonata', and Cigarettes After Sex 'Heavenly', you'll feel like you're free and flying. Do you know how it feels when you're reading a poem or listening to poetry? You're feeling that with this film instead of using logic!
Having said that, the mysteriousness of the narrative is so deep that you don't connect with any of the characters and the second half feels extremely random. It's a story from Tanay's point of view in which every character is just a catalyst or is probably existing for the sake of it but has no real essence. Like Prateik Babbar's or Neil Bhoopalam's characters don't have names or Tanay's mother, father, and Aseem have no standpoint, they just simply exist. Tanay being blindsided impacts his sister, Anuja's narrative because her story could have been very impactful but feels sudden and out of place.
Based on the book written by Sachin Kundalkar in Marathi and translated into English by Jerry Pinto, Cobalt Blue, is also directed by Sachin Kundalkar. The film's passionate visual luster seems to have tapped into that gaze where love is just loving and not connected with sexuality which in turn provides a flawless LGBTQIA+ communities’ representation in Indian cinema which seemed to have been missing earlier. It's a poetic journey of love and sexual awakening of both the siblings while also being a coming-of-age story where Prateik Babbar's blueness brings about a change in both of their lives that they could have never imagined.
Each frame holds your attention as a well-crafted painting or photograph does but the lack of writing doesn't make the story stay with you. But with all its blue, Cobalt Blue is the warmest color of beautiful poetry!
Cobalt Blue is currently streaming on Netflix!
Also Read: Wondering what the janta thought of the atypical love triangle in Cobalt Blue? Let’s find out!
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