New Delhi: Srijit Mukherji calls his 'Baishey Shrabon' a dark and violent thriller. Dark it is, but so stunningly dark.
The way Kolkata streets melt in with Goutam Ghosh's poetry and then washes away with the rains that are so common to the city - leaves a little bit of Kolkata in every heart watching the movie.
In the very first shot, the camera follows a serial killer navigating the labyrinthine by-lanes of Kolkata to find his way to a victim - a prostitute. Her head is brutally dashed with a stone and then she is strangled. And as police officer Abhijit (Parambrata) narrates the gruesome murder to his superior, the tantalising connection to poetry is drawn in.
Srijit Mukherji calls his \'Baishey Shrabon\' a dark and violent thriller. Dark it is, but so stunningly dark.
The city is rocked by a spate of violent murders where the killer leaves a note with a few lines of poetry lying by the corpse. The poems are all from well-known poets and in very twisted ways ties the lines to the person murdered and the modus operandi.
The police department realises that they can do almost nothing with the evidence - they simply cannot join the dots. In the dire need of some expert advice, in comes Prabir Roy Chowdhury (Prasenjit). The rogue cop who had been suspended from duty accused of custodial deaths and torture and saved from corporal punishment by an insanity plea. He is a foul mouthed, brilliant and a merciless ex-cop who now goes through life with his whiskey and cigars in his dilapidated palatial house - and is the only person who can solve this case.
As the two unlikely partners pair up to save the city, the next murder happens. Though not yet on the police radar, a mad poet roams the city streets with sheaves of unpublished poetry in his pockets, raving against an invisible publisher he calls 'Rabindranath' for not publishing his works and keeping him hanging. For the audience - Niranjan is the killer. Played brilliantly by Goutam Ghosh, the poet, a nihilist, ex-criminal - the one who set fire to the Kolkata Book Fair for calling his works indecent - a 'hungrealist' - and he has perfect reasons for murder. No one understands his poetry - no one, except a drunk man on the other side of the railways tracks in an empty station. He reads out his poetry to the city - and seeks revenge for the city does not understand him at all.
Meanwhile as the mystery heats up - Abhijit parts ways with his journalist girl friend Amrita (Raima Sen) and suffers the juvenile separation with alcohol and marijuana. He can't handle either.
The journalists - Amrita and her friend, in search of a story on serial killers land up at Niranjan's door. After a few moments of conversation they realize that he is clearly not sane. They move on with Amrita's friend musing that things would have been easier if Niranjan was a serial killer.
Abhijit and Prabir bond over loneliness and whiskey and Prabir tells him about the deaths of his wife and child and why he considers criminals his personal enemies. The young cops' angst is nowhere close to the darker past that haunts Prabir.
As they inch closer to solving the murders - the integral connection to the death dates of the great Bengali poets and the murders - the two men meet Niranjan. They are convinced that he is the murderer but all they have is circumstantial evidence.
In order to catch him red handed - they keep guard on his shabby, dingy house only to be misled by his servant. They go on a chase through the million lanes of Kolkata only to rush back to Niranjan's house to find him dead with a poem by his corpse.
The case is closed and Prabir is welcomed back in to the force with much celebration? Perfect? Far from it!
'Baishey Sharabon' (the 22nd day in the month of the monsoons) is Rabindranath Tagore's death date. Prabir and Abhijit knew that the next murder would have happened on that day if Niranjan was not dead.
This is where the story turns. The last murder happens on 'Baishey Sharabon' and the audience is left stunned in their seats. Even after every loose end is neatly tied up - one cannot believe that the movie just left them completely speechless.
At the onset - with the murder of the prostitute and the other dregs of society - a beggar, a crook, a homeless woman - it seems to be a take off from Johnny Depp starrer 'From Hell' that deals with the infamous Jack the Ripper legend. References to Jack The Ripper in 'Baishey Shrabon' may for a second give the audience the notion that Srijit has lifted the story off the Hollywood movie. But one could not be more mistaken.
The cinematography is brilliant. There is no other possible adjective to describe Srijit's story, the histrionics and the music. Every character, every turn of the street, every song romances the city. For the people who know the city - the language, the liberal abuses, the puns, the emotions are all familiar fragments.
The song - 'Shudhu Ekbar Bol' is shot beautifully in a drug induced haze - and loneliness can look exactly like that. The songs seem like a continuation from the ones in 'Autograph' but clearly - there was no other tenor or tune Srijit could have chosen for this masterpiece.
The movie is Prasenjit's chessboard. He plays the other characters and the words with the deft moves of a grandmaster. He strikes the perfect charismatic pose in the room full of antiques, a lone rocking horse and his glass of whiskey. In his old police uniform, tight on his slightly aged body, the graying of his hair and beard - as Prabir Roy Chowdhury, Prasenjit creates the perfect enigma. From the very first moment one sees him - one can never really place a finger on his reality.
The veteran actor has successfully found his niche in movies like these and one is well willing to forgive the stupid romantic roles he became famous for. One will want to remember Prasenjit as Prabir.
As he lies in the rain with his uniform stained with his own blood, and Abhijit's helpless tears mingling with the raindrops - he has played the role to perfection.
Parambarata, Raima and Abir play their roles with ease - their roles do not have the weight that Prasenjits' does. The only other actor who comes close to Prasenjit is Goutam Ghosh, as the psychotic poet. In the scene where the two argue over the rights of a poet - it becomes ironically evident that Prabir is not arguing with Niranjan - he is arguing with himself. In that very moment the rogue cop and the mad poet become two sides of the same coin.
'Baishey Shrabon' has been written and directed by Srijit Mukherji and stars - Prasenjit Chatterjee, Parambrata Chatterjee, Goutam Ghosh, Raima Sen and Abir Chatterjee. The music and the lyrics are by Anupam Roy.
The movie unfortunately does not come with subtitles - but perhaps that is a conscious choice made by the director for clearly the movie would lose a lot if one did not understand the language.
But for those who can understand the nuances of Bengali and of Kolkata - it would be a serious mistake to miss this movie. With the likes of 'Autograph', 'Antaheen' and now 'Baishey Shrabon' - Bengali movies have reached a brilliant new high.<iframe width="100%" height="309" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/7twQnXec2e4" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>