Kolkata, 01 Oct 2019 16:00 IST
The more you think of the film after watching it, the more layers you are able to unfold.
Pradipta Bhattacharya has a tendency of conceiving reality with a pinch of fantasy. His previous film Bakita Byaktigato (2013) is proof that the director believes that reality cannot be completely dissociated from illusion. In Rajlokhi O Srikanto, he has taken this perception to a different level by twisting the execution of content that speaks of a stark reality that the privileged often choose to ignore so as to lead a peaceful life.
However, the film is multi-dimensional and offers multiple variations of a narrative, allowing the audience to choose whichever they like. At the same time, the contrast in itself is hard-hitting and carries the potential of causing discomfort in the mind.
Bhattacharya earlier said he draws inspiration from his surroundings, especially from rural life, which is often marginalized, while choosing the subjects of his films. The authenticity of the projection of life as it is in Rajlokhi O Srikanto is the most engrossing aspect. The film is filled with raw moments of love, anger, vengeance and violence presented in the most poetic cinematic language.
The serenity of the location has its own role in the film. It calms the disturbance that the stories of the characters create in the mind. It secretly carries the essence of these characters’ virtues and vices and also hides them amidst its vastness. The beautiful drone shots of the forests amidst hillocks leave an impression of the impermanence of life itself — as if all the gory events as well as the moments of fond memories eventually vanish in the play of time.
Rajlokhi O Srikanto is a unique adaptation of Saratchandra Chattopadhyay’s novel Srikanto. To capture the essence of this film, however, one doesn’t necessarily have to read the novel. In the film, Annada Didi (Aparajita Ghosh) and Indranath (Sayan Ghosh) have equal importance as Rajlokhi (Jyotika Jyoti) and Srikanto (Ritwick Chakraborty). Their respective narratives connect to a single point, turning the plot into a full circle and offering the audience a wholesome experience.
It is brilliant the way Bhattacharya has juxtaposed multiple time frames to establish the organic buildup of each and every character and its story. The events from Srikanto’s childhood and Indranath’s youth are not mere flashbacks to set their narratives in the present; rather they are directly linked to the psychological explanation of each and every decision, especially the ones made by Srikanto, in the present.
Rajlokhi O Srikanto is a lengthy film and its pace is that of nature amidst which most of the action takes place. The vivid visuals from Srikanto and Indranath’s days in their village of Nischindipur transport the audience into a different world. At times, you may start to forget that you are watching a film sitting in a multiplex.
The visuals in the darkness are piercing. In contrast, the sun on the river bank carries the testimony of all four characters’ hopes and dreams.
Of all the characters, Srikanto’s is the most complex. His courage sometimes becomes dreaded and at other times he fears an uncertain future. He has been so close to death that he doesn’t mind spending a night alone at the burning ghat. The apparently paranormal activities are a figment of his twisted psychology and its soft inclination towards committing a crime. However, at the end, Srikanto also, like Rajlokhi, Indranath and Annada Didi, becomes a victim of social hierarchies and fate.
Bhattacharya shows how love is the biggest threat to the exercise of hierarchical power in the most inhuman ways. Love, in Rajlokhi O Srikanto, is the language of the rebel that is deliberately stifled by characters such Sahuji and Hukum Chand (Rahul Banerjee). These characters, sitting at the top of the power hierarchy, engage the marginalized and the unassuming people to their own purposes and entertainment. While Rajlokhi is pushed to perish for rising to live with love, Annada Didi and Indranath’s love becomes synonymous with protest against the ill practices of rural society.
Keeping in line with these thoughts, Rajlokhi O Srikanto can be termed a striking story of eternal love.
Subhadeep Dey’s camerawork is restless while capturing the fleeting emotions of the characters; however, when it enters the premises of nature, it adopts a rather serene motion. Dey uses close-up shots the best when framing conversations between characters. The sequence of Annada Didi trying to warn Indranath and Srikanto of Sahuji’s evil intentions and of Rajlokhi pouring her heart out before Srikanto achieve unique cinematic moment.
Dey’s camerawork is brilliantly synced with all the songs and the rhythm structure of the background score by Satyaki Banerjee. Bhattacharya, who is also the film's editor, places each and every song at the most appropriate juncture. Repeating 'Amar Etuk Sudhu Chaowa' by Timir Biswas at the end of the film has a broader significance of its own.
Ritwick Chakraborty is his usual self while portraying Srikanto. He has got so used to instinctive acting that perhaps he refuses to come out of that zone. He is natural in his act but the performances surrounding his are much more striking yet subtly dramatic.
Jyotika Jyoti takes time to get into Rajlokhi, but when she does, her expressions speak volumes. Her passionate tears at the first sight of Srikanto or the desperate expression of her desire to live a fulfilled life with Srikanto are proof of her fine sensibilities as an actress.
Aparajita Ghosh epitomizes all the harrowing emotions she goes through in her very being. Sayan Ghosh has a commanding presence as Indranath, who is perhaps the most sorted character in the entire story. His dialogue delivery as a guardian of Srikanto and the traces of courage in his voice strongly establish his character.
Rahul Banerjee’s character is archetypal and he brings out his significant traits dramatically. The actor who portrays Srikanto’s childhood has also delivered a mature act.
It is only possible to lend a smooth format to such a complex composition when the director is also the editor. Bhattacharya has taken six long years to come up with this film and each and every moment shows the amount of effort he has put into writing the screenplay and the dialogues. The entire film is proof of his vast research that made the job of the artistes and other technicians quite easy.
Rajlokhi O Srikanto is a must-watch for the prolonged effect it leaves on the mind. The more you think of the film after watching it, the more layers you are able to unfold. There are certain moments at the later stage of the film that might seem tedious; however, Bhattacharya, perhaps, established those moments with a lot of time only to shatter them to the most hard-hitting effect.
Rajlokhi O Srikanto requires the viewer to ponder over its subject rather than merely get entertained.
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