IFFI 2016 Bastu Shaap review: Beautiful parable on love-life balance

Kaushik Ganguly's seventh consecutive entry at IFFI is a beautiful tale of love, life, and harmony that comes to a boil on screen.

Shriram Iyengar

Film: Bastu Shaap
Rating: 3/4

It would be rash to label commercial films at festivals as hare-brained entertainers. They are, after all, an essential part of the art of cinema. Kaushik Ganguly's Bastu Shaap is one of the many big hits to enter IFFI 2016's Indian Panorama section this year. By first account, it looks to be worth the entry fee. A National award-winner, Ganguly emerges as a storyteller, narrator, and witness to the parable that unfolds on screen.

The film has won audiences over since its release in January and arrives on the festival circuit with high, and worthy, praise. It is the story of an ex-army man (Abir Chatterjee) who appoints bastu shaap and feng shui experts Kaushal (Parambrata Chatterjee) and Timir (Kaushik Ganguly), respectively, to set his life right. Unknown to him, and the experts, a whole subtext of relationships unfolds.

Written and shot like a short story, Bastu Shaap was marked as a 'romantic thriller' on its release. That might be a misnomer for there are few thrills in Ganguly's film, apart from the splendid acting masterclass by each character. Parambrata Chatterjee, Raima Sen, Abir Chatterjee and Churni Ganguly are in fine form. But special mention needs to be made of the director, Kaushik Ganguly, who displays poise, control and grace as Timir Babu. Each of the characters is well etched out, and makes for enjoyable watching.

The story itself is written well. Basically a chamber drama, Bastu Shaap unfolds mostly within the walls of the 'cursed' house. However, it is the tension between the characters, laced with some funny dialogues, and props that make it thrilling. The director's ability to delve into the mindscape of his characters while easing the audience into the backstories of his characters, works to his advantage. 

For a romantic thriller, Bastu Shaap is embroidered with some beautiful music. The lilting tunes of 'Raja Ranir Bhalo Hok' and 'Tomake Chuye Dilam' are memorable. The background score is just good enough to carry the scenes forward, which is exactly what it needs to do. Indraadip Dasgupta has done a fantastically good job. 

Festivals like IFFI truly open our eyes to the diversity and layers of storytelling in our country outside the world of Hindi cinema. Kaushik Ganguly's film is one that leaves you with a comforting feeling after going through a torrid time. It reminds you that people are, by default, workmen. They repair things, put them together, and try to make something harmonious. Just what the director has managed himself! 

Director: Kaushik Ganguly
Cast: Kaushik Ganguly, Parambrata Chatterjee, Abir Chatterjee, Raima Sen, Churni Ganguly
Runtime: 129 minutes