New Delhi: Once upon a time Kolkata boasted of the finest in quality cinema. From Ray, Ghatak and Sen to Tapan Sinha, Tarun Mazumdar, Ajoy Kar, Asit Sen and gang, it offered both artistic and commercial fare that entertained while it enriched, enlightened as it empowered in one fell swoop.
However, with time, this went into fade-out zone and in its place, pathetic versions of Bollywood and Tamil masala zoomed into focus, a blend of embarrassingly laughable hi-jinks or sixth-grade, populist melodrama – both catering to the lowest common denominator.
As always, there were exceptions, but this frightening state forced the educated, middle-class intelligentsia – who formed the major constituency of cine-viewers – to stay away from movie halls and stick to the idiot box, emerging only when there was something that didn’t invite them to immediately contemplate either migration or suicide.
Monojit Lahiri attempts to figure out what makes \'Bhooter Bhabishyat\' such a monumental hit and craze among cine-viewers in Kolkata.
While things appear to be a lot better than it was a decade ago in Tollyville, good comedy continues to be a near forgotten rarity. Either overtly esoteric and pseudo intellectual (aantail) or goofy corn ball and slapstick, sharp, intelligent humour built into the screenplay as an intrinsic part of the narrative, is (mostly) wishful thinking. When was the last time, you saw a really, truly fabulous comedy that zapped you, full-on?
Anik Dutta’s ‘Bhooter Bhabishyat’ is exactly that. Culled out of present day Kolkata and every day life the premise and the take is mind-blowing simply because of its uniquely comic vision. As old mansion’s and houses are being torn down and replaced by today’s edifices of new-age progress and prosperity (malls, shopping complexes, cineplexes and hi-rise buildings) by greedy, on-the-make promoters, director Dutta casts a kind and concerned eye on the future, not of the human tenants of these vanishing mansions, but of the spirits/bhoot who reside there.
Where will the poor creatures go? Who will they turn to? With no political party, corporate or media supporting them, what will they do? What is their future? Blending sharp social comment with scholarship and wit – the likes of which have not been witnessed in recent times – Dutta creates a rip-roaring comic tale that does the near impossible, engage and entertain in equal measure across all stratas of Bengali society.
Superbly scripted, brilliantly crafted, wonderfully cast, directed with every detail and nuance in place with performance levels of every single actor of the highest order, little wonder that this small-budget film, directed by a directed by a debutante with minimum publicity is today the toast of Kolkata and making sufficient waves to enjoy a fine showing in Mumbai, with Delhi and Bangalore, next on it’s radar. An un-missable movie experience for every sane Bengali forever lamenting the death of genuine comedy, ‘Bhooter Bhabishyat’ is exactly what the doctor ordered for the bong Diaspora.
Get a DVD, CD, ticket, whatever- ‘Bhooter Bhabishyat’ is that rare film that will stay with you- for sheer audacious, charming, hysterically funny insightful comedy – for a very long time!