Kolkata, 17 Feb 2019 7:00 IST
The performances by all the artistes show how dearly they wanted to be part of this film. Despite the loopholes and the chaos caused by too many parallel narratives, the film has been made from the heart.
Satirical spoofs are hardly made in Bengali cinema these days and the reasons are clearly shown in Anik Dutta's Bhobishyoter Bhoot, a satirical spoof.
The film begins with the declaration that the director had to face a lot of harassment and overcome many obstacles while making it. And the content quickly makes it apparent why.
Bhobishyoter Bhoot is replete with critical comments on the current socio-political scenario as well as on the state of Bengali cinema. Ghosts of the technology era also play important roles in the film as the director links the history of each ghost with the present political scenario.
There are multiple strands and stories in the film. Some are linked up well in the climax while we lose track of others. The past of the characters also leads to the present decline of society. However, in its attempt to establish these connections, the film gets stretched at certain points.
Dutta shows how the entertainment sector and the media are regulated by powerful political organizations. He does not flinch from picking up several trends and recent incidents relating to the present regime and attacks them with humour. In his film, the much-discussed Sarada scam as well as the Hok Kolorob movement of Jadavpur university students find a place.
The film has an interesting opening as it says the lack of darkness in the city has robbed ghosts of their haunts and now they might have to find their places on digital platforms, including Bhoogle (Google for ghosts) and Ghostagram (need we explain?).
Gradually, the film establishes its characters and their stories. The journey of honest journalist Satyajit (Sourav Chakraborty) leads him into the trap of politician Ambubachi (Koushik Sen) from the ruling party. The same Ambubachi is held responsible for the death of a former leftist activist and small-time goon (Amit Saha).
Cabaret dancer Rupali (Chandrayee Ghosh), former Jatra performer Harisadhan (Paran Bandopadhyay) and an ex-actor played by Barun Chanda have their own stories of their deaths that contain repressed angst about the changing times but in comical ways.
However, while the context of changing times appears convincing, the director drags the stories a bit too far without establishing any direct connection with the climax.
The episode of 'Ghost walk' ridicules the idea of ghosts as the organisers intend to commodify them, as producers do with their films. In the second half, ghosts are seen to be posing as themselves for the 'Ghost walk', but the episode leads nowhere.
Similarly, though the concept of the digital world of ghosts raises questions about the reach and exploitative power of social media, it does not establish a connection with the larger story.
Dutta seems to have left no chapter uncovered when it comes to criticism and the current trend of reality shows is one of them. The ghosts eventually choose their soldiers for the battle of justice and truth from the reality show; however, this episode also appears to have been stretched with the guest appearance of Swastika Mukherjee's avatar from Dutta's previous film Bhooter Bhabishyat (2012).
In the end, the film basically shows how the ghosts of future generations can come in to rescue a society that has lost its way in corruption, lies and hypocrisy in every layer.
The performances by all the artistes show how dearly they wanted to be part of this film that went through several ups and downs. Despite the loopholes and the chaos caused by too many parallel narratives, the film appears to have been made from the heart.
Not one performance falls flat. From Koushik Sen to Shantilal Mukherjee, who plays a newly corrupt newspaper editor, Ghosh's authentic portrayal of the cabaret dancer and Amit Saha's comic timing engage the audience at every step.
Debajyoti Mishra has done a fabulous job of creating a comprehensive experience with different genres of music that fit appropriately in various segments. Avik Mukhopadhyay and Arghyakamal Mitra have managed to retain the flavour of spoof with their cinematic craft throughout the film.
Apart from the consistently witty dialogues, Dutta has also written the lyrics for the songs in the film, using them to comment satirically on adjacent sequences in the film. There are dialogues with sexual undertones but they are never meant to be cheap.
Bhobishyoter Bhoot is an important film despite its failures. Some sequences require patience of the viewer, but in the rest it thoroughly entertains the audience with laughter, amusement and food for thought.
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