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Review Bengali

Purbo Poschim Dokkhin Uttor Ashbei review: Confusing attempt at crafting a paranormal thriller

Release Date: 22 Nov 2019 / Rated: U/A

Cinestaan Rating

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Roushni Sarkar

The film fails to arouse curiosity about the paranormal world, though it does manage to create a few scares.

Raajhorshee De’s Purbo Poschim Dokkhin Uttor Ashbei is an attempt at making a paranormal thriller. The director seems to achieve his objective gradually with the film making its greatest impact at the end. Unfortunately, that is not enough, given that the plot comprises three stories from different periods, threaded together with a narrative of two passengers on a train, though the director does miss out on logical progression at times.

In the first two stories, in fact, the plot progression is often jarring. The audience gets confused trying to figure out the twists in the tales and the significance of the incidents in the real and alternative time spaces. The idea of love being the greatest mystical strength is expressed repeatedly in dialogue but is not apparent in the storyline. At times, the director seems to be imposing the idea to establish some significance of the storyline.

The film is based on Aveek Sarkar’s paranormal fiction Ebong Inquisition. While the film proves the director’s avid interest in the subject, the cinematic composition suggests that he was yet to internalize the stories to be able to create a compact and intelligible adaptation. The first two stories especially give the impression that a lot was going on in De's mind. Trying to present some twists, he only ends up composing certain sequences to confuse the audience.

One of the purposes of making a paranormal thriller could be to entertain the audience with horror elements. In the third story, the director achieves that objective. But the purpose of telling the other two stories remains unknown. The ending of the first tale appears abrupt while the climax of the second is quite ridiculous and conveys no meaningful parallel statement. Had the director intended to present the idea of a world beyond mortal perception, he could have infused a bit of mystery instead of using a mediæval approach of depicting paranormal energies taking revenge in the form of a curse of a thousand years. This particular sequence doesn't really go beyond the standard of various regressive Bengali tele-serials.

The three stories are told by a man (Kamaleswar Mukherjee) to his co-passenger Stuti (Arpita Chatterjee). The two are travelling in a coupé and Stuti is easily persuaded by the man to listen to his stories. When he finishes telling her the first story, Stuti inserts her own narrative, which has no connection with the second story that her co-passenger begins to tell, drawing a link.

The first story raises certain questions about the concept of rebirth in Stuti’s mind; however, at the same time, the story is so abrupt that it requires Stuti’s queries to understand that there are, perhaps, elements of rebirth in it. The only connection among the three stories is a real-life character called Krishnananda Agambagish (Paran Bandopadhyay), a noted tantrik and clairvoyant, who appears as the sole saviour in moments of absolute crisis in all the tales set in different periods. The audience is thus led to believe in the extraordinary powers of Agambagish and then confused with the repeated emphasis on love being the supreme energy.

The film stops at a certain point before the interval; however, there appears to be no continuity of the narrative after the interval. Even if the incident before the interval were an isolated one, it should have left a certain impact on Stuti and her co-passenger, who reveals his identity in the climax, in the form of another twist.

The director deserves all credit, however, for weaving the last story, Bhog, which does send a chill down the spine. The difference between the first two stories and the third one is that Bhog has an appeal in itself, without the forced idea of love being the greatest mystical practice. The other two stories appear to suggest a lack of confidence on the director’s part.

Of the cast, Paran Bandopadhyay as Krishnananda Agambagish, Gaurav Chakraborty as Atin, Damini Beny Basu as Pushpa-di and Eshika Dey as Damori draw attention with their seamless performances.

Ranjan Palit’s repeated close shots of the characters while conversing only seem to obstruct the flow of the storyline. Also, at times, the frames do not bring the best possible impact out of the sequences.

Debajyoti Mishra’s songs are a different kind of composition and soothing. However, the background score lends predictability to the storyline and often hints at the impending mood of the sequences.

While the artistes have delivered the best to build the body of the film, art director Tanmoy Chakraborty deserves most of the credit for creating an eerie atmosphere throughout the different stories, doing justice to the time and space.

Screenwriter Upasana Chowdhury and the director should have given more thought to the dialogues, which are one of the drawbacks of the film. Through the dialogues, they just try to spoon-feed concepts to the audience, rather than letting it enjoy some uncertainty and make its own connections.

Purbo Poschim Dokkhin Uttor Ashbei fails to arouse curiosity about the paranormal world among viewers. It does manage to scare them for a while, but mostly it just tests their patience.

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