Kolkata, 13 Aug 2019 14:00 IST
The film serves no purpose but to delude the masses, who are hardly aware of the grave and intense scenario of terrorism and the politics involved in it.
Anshuman Pratyush’s debut film Panther (2019), starring Jeetendra Madnani aka Jeet and Shraddha Das in the lead, is not about fighting terrorism but it certainly glorifies its patriotic protagonist to the extent of turning him into a mortal superhero.
At the backdrop of a turbulent phase that the country is currently going through, the film chooses to avoid the stark reality of terrorism and the dirty politics instrumental behind it and presents a fictionalised account of saving a city from being blown up by terrorists by a Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) agent in an almost fairy tale like approach.
The film has an extremely simple and linear plot. The protagonist Panther (Jeet) promises to eliminate terrorism from its roots but in the film, he only manages to catch two masterminds behind two serial blasts in the most unrealistic way. The film singularly focuses on Panther’s journey, with a few elements of humour through the character of RAW agent Spider, an ethical hacker, played by Saswata Chatterjee. Thankfully, there is no sequence of melodramatic romance between Ziya (Shraddha Das) and Panther, they rather work as companions in the mission.
Needless to say, the film is filled with dialogues that are meant to address patriotism as a sensational sentiment. Certain dialogues to prove the love for country is repeated now and again and they are bound to get ingrained in mind.
The oversimplified depiction of fighting terrorism through merely killing or capturing the terrorists is not a sensible approach. Instead of eradicating the evil through analysis and step-by-step actions, a war-like scenario is depicted in the film. The characters fighting the terrorists in the film are RAW agents and their characterisation is highly fictionalised, with no complexities whatsoever.
While on the one hand, the portrayal of the terrorists is quite stereotypical in terms of their religious identity, the film strikes a balance between introducing characters such as RAW chief Jahangir (Santilal Mukherjee) and his daughter Ziya, going beyond the staple markers of religious identity.
In the beginning of the film, Panther (Jeet), the most trusted and successful undercover agent of RAW, miraculously saves a school from the threat of some dreaded terrorists by killing them down and also captures their chief. The responsible terror outfit then demands the release of the chief and threatens to blow up several places in Mumbai and Kolkata if the government fails to abide by their demands.
The terrorists succeed in their attacks in Mumbai and hence, the ministers and the RAW agents reckon an emergency situation. They decide to release the detained, but Panther assures them to uproot terrorism from its roots. The dedicated undercover agent makes a trip to Al Dera, Saudi Arabia to hunt for the mastermind of the blasts and there, he encounters Jahangir and his daughter Ziya.
In the second half of the film, for certain amount of time, the plot seems a bit clumsy and it takes time to figure out the operation Panther is actually undertaking. Instead of melodramatic romance sequence, there are few scenes of emotional exchange between Ziya and Panther, probably kept intentionally to bring out the softer shades of Panther as a human being.
Jeet’s presence on the screen is confident and commanding. He seems to have done the stunts himself, which adds to the primary objective of promoting hero-worship in the film. His act is not nuanced for the script doesn’t demand any. His character is fearless and he considers his entire country to be his family. In the film, when he is asked whether he is a Bengali, he proudly replies to be an Indian, above all. Jeet magnifies all the attributes that are required in a dedicated patriotic fighter.
Saswata Chatterjee does full justice to his character of a skilful hacker with attributes of a buffoon. His comic timing is apt and he manages to bring out the apparent anxiety of his character, while ultimately, proving to be a brave soul.
Santilal Mukherjee’s character is also partially funny. Though his appearance as Jahangir is brief, he manages to create an interesting aura about him in the short span of narrative.
Sudip Mukherjee fits well in his character of a responsible RAW agent with his restrained act and baritone voice. Rupanjana Mitra’s act as the minister is rather average.
Debutante actress Shraddha Das’s expressions are mostly one-dimensional.
Suddho Roy’s background score is more sensational than required and also, reminds one of the television mega serials.
Ramyadip Saha’s cinematography is clean. Along with him, editor MD Kalam has managed to magnify Jeet’s aura in the entire film as much as possible. Both of them have also been able to retain the charm of the extremely unrealistic action sequences in the film.
The film serves no purpose but to delude the masses, who are hardly aware of the grave and intense scenario of terrorism and the politics involved in it. However, the film is more or less without technical flaws. Leaving aside a few loopholes, Panther is made with the purpose of engaging the audience.
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