Thursday, 24 December 2015

(Har Har) Byomkesh – This and that…

My Kolkata trip this winter has been studded with visits to movie theatres lusting after Truth, so far. First, Jisshu (not Jishu, anymore) with contextual disappointments though with no fault of his other than agreeing upon it (A passing mention -  I actually ended up watching that because I had misjudged the timing of release of This Byomkesh which was my actual aim). While he did what perhaps he was asked to do and well - yet, I couldn’t but wonder if it’s is about copyright issues (lack of that, that is) or something else but somethng was positively wrong for sure. I also didn't quite see how Bengalis are (or presumed to be) suddenly on a spree with this dhoti-clad shawl-wrapped thick-frame adorned bhodrolok… and then I reasoned it with – well, one Bengali is no more a poet, he is now a film director – you see!

And with such magnanimous liberal and open, welcoming, non-cynic mind I went – today again – to give This a try! And whoa… This!!

To begin, This… is, so far (and until quite far, that is) the most superior Byomkesh that I’ve had the fortune to chance upon. And with full knowledge of who’s-done-it that most Bengali audience would be holding with Bohni-Potongo (this is not your own story with co-incidental names, you see!) this film still faired very well, with flying colours rather, just by the very art with which it treated the story…

Byomkesh: Abir is awesome as a cast, and with it I am slowly tending towards saying that  he is proving to be quite an Ace in even non-formulaic departments, which I’d admit many of us could hardly foresee longer back (despite the slight, very slight, reservations the telescopic critic in me holds against certain pronunciations his tongue fails him upon). Of course, as much as we may put our stakes on his versatility, Abir is and will remain – in spirit – a romantic hero first. This gives him an Uttam-Kumarish trait - in a way edgy for domestic scenes with Satya, while also misguiding hot for sleuth-ish gestures when he’s after Satya but in more metaphorical ways. But then, you cannot ask a handsome young man to look less hot, can you?

Coming to Satya – I had my skeptic reservations with the tall, sleek, smart Sohini that I’ve earlier seen her for – take a "Phoring", for instance. But this Satyabati makeover, both in characterization as well as for the time frame, was adopted extremely well by her. The abundant innocence, the playing a wife who’s as little and yet somewhat interested in the mystery as Satya was for a bride on her honeymoon, the submissive yet pronounced presence that she held in the very stories themselves – they were all played to a T. Her eyes – most importantly – gave the Bengali in me the eyes I could be looking for, from the pages of the books I grew up upon.

Ajit: I guess we Bengalis been long been searching for an answer on this, and it was a shame how – given what he is so far his capabilities are concerned – even Saswata had failed us in that area. We needed a magic – one that, in search of an analogy, is what Santosh Dutta meant to Feluda; and we, so long, had only been looking, at least until now. With This Byomkesh we possibly found an answer at last, and now we can only hope that it stays. It’s not just about the cast (which Ritwick brings magic into) if I may; it’s also the restrained, calculated dialogues that have been put in his mouth. From “bolbe, bolbe, o shob bolbe!” to “Gundar moton Daktar” - This Ajit has played in This Byomkesh what an Ajit is supposed to play in Byomkesh – no less, and thankfully, absolutely, no more too!

The background scores and the art direction has attempted to give this film what maybe called more than just the story, just its narration. It was a pretty good portrayal of Benaras, keeping in mind both the time frame as well as the nuances of the city. (Koninika’s Baiji-act was a positive disappointment, but that apart.)

And the last Maganlal scene (yes, there was one, trust me!) was such a sweet gesture for a tribute – it didn’t fail to bring a smile on with anyone in the audience if I were to guess.

“Abar Shabor” and then This – Arindom Sil, please know that you are now having us watch you in anticipation!! Oh, and while it lasts, personally I have my fingers crossed in hope to see a Makorshar Rosh with Ritwik for Ajit, please…