Kolkata, 15 Aug 2019 12:10 IST
Despite its promotion as a detective film, Pratim D Gupta's movie is more about the hope and faith in humanity that it restores during the climax.
Not every director these days has a signature mark that can determine his or her style of storytelling. However, Pratim D Gupta, in all his films so far, has managed to deliver poetic justice in the narratives of his various protagonists.
Shantilal O Projapoti Rohoshyo (2019) is no exception. Despite being promoted as a detective film, Shantilal O Projapoti Rohoshyo is more about the hope and faith in humanity that it restores during the climax.
The director has done justice to the rather simple content with compact conceptualization. Shantilal O Projapoti Rohoshyo may not fulfil the expectations of an audience that is looking for a bone-chilling thriller, with suspense to grip it every second, but it offers an immersive experience with a dramatic unfolding. It is hard to pick holes in the film where there is hardly an unnecessary sequence.
The film has a stylish credit sequence, accompanied by the song 'Aleya' that sets an urbane and upbeat mood, to progress with the plot, delving into a mystery.
A weather reporter at The Sentinel, Shantilal (Ritwick Chakraborty) is quite fed up with his job as it hardly allows him to explore his ability to tell unique stories. Gupta delineates his state of mind and continuous crises and establishes the character of Shantilal with a lot of conviction.
The simple weather reporter happens to get a pass to attend the premiere of a film of the star Nandita (Paoli Dam), who has recently joined politics. There, a certain revelation regarding Nandita changes Shantilal’s life.
Shantilal begins to pursue the lead regarding Nandita’s story, hoping to change his career by breaking the most saleable story in the entertainment business.
The character of Nandita remains a mystery till the climax. Though one of her speeches on choosing a career in politics gives subtle hints to the human being she may be, it is the dramatic revelation in the climax that makes her character more endearing.
In fact, more than Shantilal’s journey to Chennai and Singapore to unearth the secrets of Nandita’s life, it is his exchange with the star towards the climax that appears to be the most engrossing moment of the film.
The climax elevates the film's temperament to a different level.
To expect an extraordinary detective out of Shantilal would be a mistake. He is only persuasive and, to an extent, selfish as well. Initially he is no different from other media personalities, who look for stories for their own business. He is stoked when he manages to discover all the proofs and for him, Nandita means nothing more than the most saleable story.
Nandita, on the other hand, is a fighter and vulnerable too. She is persuasive in her own ways and determined to achieve certain goals. A victim of circumstances, Nandita wishes to redeem her past in her own selfless ways.
In the narrative, Shantilal's boss (Goutam Ghose) and Rocket Ranjan (Ambarish Bhattacharya) play crucial roles in instigating and taking Shantilal's journey forward. The way the character of Rocket Ranjan is introduced might not appear realistic, yet it is an interesting addition for sure.
Speaking of holes, Shantilal getting all the monetary assistance for his trips to Chennai and Singapore is quite inexplicable. On the other hand, cinematographer Subhankar Bhar offers some of the most visually appealing sequences in Singapore with a few surprising elements in Gupta's writing.
A lesser actor might have gone overboard with the portrayal of Shantilal in his attempt to become a detective. But Ritwick Chakraborty sticks to the basic traits of his character. Those don't turn him into the most interesting detective, but they definitely elevate him as a human being and bring forth the importance of the conscience that he speaks of during an exchange with his colleague played by Shankar Chakraborty at the beginning.
Paoli Dam's act is compact and hard-hitting. Though a lot of credit goes to the writer, Dam captures the nuances of her enigmatic character with finesse. Her performance leaves an impact and the audience is bound to relate with her stories.
Goutam Ghose does justice to his superficial character of a funny yet conceited editor. Ambarish Bhattacharya is brilliant in his brief portrayal of a humourous, helpful being who is compassionate towards a fellow Bengali in a foreign land. Chitrangada Shatarupa is natural and convincing as a film journalist.
Cinematographer Subhankar Bhar and editor Subhajit Singha are the real heroes of the film, delivering a smooth and appealing cinematic experience throughout.
Avijit Kundu's conception for elevating certain moods with his background score is unique. His ideas go well with the seamless and stylish approach of the film. Though the film is not about glamour and glitz, it has a sleek format that is refreshing and Kundu's sense of timing contributes a lot in this regard.
Arko's songs 'Aleya' and 'Shomoy' are part of the immersive experience of the film even if they do not stand out on their own.
It is interesting how Gupta has revolved the mystery around Projapoti (Butterfly) and woven the thread of the narrative around it. It can always be contemplated whether Shantilal's quest could have had more unpredictable moments and twists. However, it is the synchronic conceptualization of the entire plot that turns the film into a success. The audience will be more satisfied and, perhaps, carry a lingering positive feeling at heart more than getting thrilled at the end of the film.
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