Petrichor – the smell of wet earth after rains – finds its way in ‘Dwitiyo Purush’ in one of the sequences. That is the kind of feeling I emerged out of the theatre with after watching the film. No, not the smell of wet earth but that of contentment after watching a heart-wrenching thriller, Srijit Mukherji is known to make.
Dwitiyo Purush, the spin-off of the 2011 cult classic ‘Baishe Srabon’ is dark, gritty, violent and gloomy. In a possible ode to ‘Srabon’ the whole film has been shot in the monsoons, to capture the melancholy enigma that the city wears in the season. The rain is but a metaphor – for the eternal longing for the loved one. “Jawl ta ek thake, chokh ta paalte jay. Chumu ta ek thaake, thont ta paalte jay.” Srijit Mukherji-Soumik Halder duo know how to make Kolkata a character in the movie itself.
In his promotional interviews Srijit Mukherji had maintained that Dwitiyo Purush cannot be moulded into any specific genre – there’s thrill, there’s violence, and there’s love. It’s what the audience assimilates is what matters. For me, personally, the film is an unabashed celebration of love. Coming from a director who made necrophilia look so aesthetic, Dwitiyo Purush is bound to tug at your heartstrings.
In the year 1993, in Kolkata’s Chinatown, a gang war takes place and leads to several murders. The police get involved but politics leads to the whole incident being covered up. Twenty-five years later similar murders rock the city. Abhijit Prakashi (Parambrata Chattopadhyay), now a celebrated investigating officer in Kolkata Police, is called in to investigate the crime. He is joined by a new officer – Rajat (Gaurav Chakraborty) in the venture.
As the investigation progresses, we see signs of the teacher-student chemistry between Abhijit-Rajat, which is reminiscent of Abhijit’s relationship with Prabir Roy Chowdhury. In fact, Prabir (rather his suicide) continues to haunt Abhijit, giving him sleepless nights. As Abhijit fights his own demons, his relationship with Amrita (now his wife) is strained. One might even wonder why they put up with each other; it is only after the climax that one can relate to the deep psychosis at play.
The climax of the film redefines the entire paradigm of the series and is mind-boggling. Despite a slow first-half, and the unnecessary sub-plot involving Rajat’s love life, or the cameo by Shurjo, Dwitiyo Purush will make up for the all loose-ends in the plot in the last 10 minutes. This film is definitely not for the faint-hearted.
In one of the scenes, Abhijit gives a lecture on motive and serial killing to Rajat – the entire story is etched in that sequence. One must understand the deep psychological impulse that motivates someone to commit serial killings. Mere greed or revenge can never push someone down that path. The big reveal in the climax will force you to don the thinking hat.
And then there are the usual elements of a Srijit Mukherji thriller that make a film even more endearing. The dialogues, witty and deep, the background score that keeps you on the edge and the crisp editing (specially in the second half) give Dwitiyo Purush the much-needed crime-thriller feel. You cannot stop yourself from cheering for Abhijit when he schools Amrita on ‘Bangla bhasha and mutton kosha’. Who could’ve thought a simple ‘Ph’ vs ‘F’ dialogue from ‘Baishe’ would finds its way into the sequel at such a critical point. Or that the famed daal-bhat-biryani banter would find its match in chicken chowmein-chilli fish?
One emerged from the theatre after watching ‘Baishe Srabon’ with Gobheere Jao playing in the ears and Prosenjit’s epochal stare etched in mind. If someone matched the gravity of Prabir ‘babu’ in this film, it certainly is Anirban Bhattacharya. The lovelorn ‘Khoka’ who’s lost it all, desperate to give up everything for that one longing – who else could give expression to the pathos, but Anirban?
He is matched equally by his ‘nemesis’ Parambrata – who bares it all in a career-best performance. His meltdown scene in the washroom sent shivers down my spine. Rwitobroto and Soham are the discoveries of Dwitiyo Purush. The gruesome menace and the bonding of love, the special chemistry and the fear of loss – these two ‘junior’ actors can give many ‘superstars’ a run for their money with their performance. To be frank, I was disappointed with the character arc of Raima Sen and Aabir Chatterjee. Even Riddhima (whose introduction scene in Rajkahini had me stupefied) is wasted.
Making a sequel (or a spin-off) of a cult classic is no mean feat, and Srijit Mukherji passes off with flying colours. Dwitiyo Purush could have easily received an ‘O’ in OWLs, but has to make do with ‘Exceeds Expectations’. It is definitely not the ‘perfect’ film like ‘Baishe’ was, but stands out on its own merit. Baishe Srabon had set the benchmark for the last decade. It was a cult classic which redefined Bengali cinema. Dwitiyo Purush is the perfect sequel one could ask for. It sets the benchmark for the decade that just started.
In the end, many people did not like the finale of Game of Thrones. Some found it a profound and fitting end to a saga. Ultimately, Game of Thrones earned a place in history. So will this film.
What goes on inside Srijit Mukherji’s mind, one can only wonder. Just when you thought he has told his wackiest story, he surprises you with another superb “out of the box” idea. Keep pushing the envelope, I’d say.
You are your own competition. After all this time, I am proud to be a Srijit Mukherji fan. Always.
It’s 23rd September and I cannot keep calm because it is the birthday of my favourite filmmaker of our times – Srijit Mukherji. Since October 2010, he has become synonymous with meaningful cinema. From thrillers to period drama, adventure or even gangster action movie – no matter which genre he adopts, Srijit Da always churns out gold.
The eclectic mix of ‘art house’ and ‘commercial’, his films are always thought-provoking. As a dialogue writer, he always creates magic with the subtle references and puns. And music forms a pillar of strength in all his movies. That is why most of his films have turned out to be chartbuster albums, too.
On his birthday, I wish to share my Top 5 favourite Srijit Mukherji films. It was an arduous task zeroing-in on these titles, but after ruthless consideration, here they are:
5. Nirbaak: An unconventional love story, which was ahead of its time, Nirbaak deserves praise for the experimentation. Coming close on the heels of some of Srijit Mukherji’s award-winning works – it elicited curiosity, and required conviction to go ahead and make a film like this. From narcissism to necrophilia – social ‘ills’ have been portrayed in such poignant and poetic depictions, that one cannot help but fall in love with these profligacies. The film re-introduced us to the actor in Anjan Dutt, but the adorable dog stole the show.
4. Ek je Chilo Raja: Based on the controversial Bhawal Sanyasi case, Ek Je Chilo Raja is different from Srijit Mukherjee’s other films, but also bears his signature style of filmmaking throughout. The film provokes you into introspection. From the word go, the film charms its way into your hearts – with the breathtaking cinematography by Gairik Sarkar, the muted colour palate (black and white for the court scenes, a brilliant thought), astoundingly real make-up (the heart of the film – Jisshu has 4 different looks in the film) and soul-stirring music.
3. Baishe Srabon: “Autograph, Srijit Mukerji’s first film was a tribute to Satyajit Ray’s Nayak. Baishe Srabon establishes him as a director par excellence. Tribute the unsung poet found in almost every Bengali home, the film touted as a musical thriller, delves deep into the human psyche and shows us a dark facet of life, answers to which we seldom seek.”
This is what I wrote in my review on my blog. You can read the full review here: https://antorjatikbangali.wordpress.com/2011/10/01/22se-srabon/
2. Jaatishwar: It is not a film; it is an experience that takes us for a joyride through the annuls of history – freely flowing from present to the past, from fiction to history. If Baishey Srabon was a tribute to the Hungryalist era of Bengali literature, Jaatishwar seeks to revive the Kobigaan period of Bangla music.
1. Chotushkone: It is not just a story of who-dun-it. It is a journey of self-realisation, a journey of tying the loose ends of old strings. Former friends come together to relive their old days, some with a desire for vengeance, and some simply to escape the monotony of life. In a way, Chotushkone is a journey of introspection; it is the song of life.
Rajkahini – The tale of Partition often leaves out the marginalised in the narrative of history. The film seeks to set the record straight by telling us the tale of prostitutes who fought ‘against’ partition to save their ‘home’.
Uma – It may not be a technically great film. Neither can one say it is an epoch-changing story. It is the honesty behind the storytelling that makes Uma a winner. The triumph of the human spirit, against all odds, to fulfil the promise a father made to his dying child – Uma is an ode to life itself.
Hemlock Society – The best music album among all of Srijit Da’s works, Hemlock Society would have been among my Top 5 choices, had its length been a little shorter. The ‘Anand’ style ending could have been avoided, is what I felt. At a time when there is worldwide concern about mental health, this beautiful film on suicide-prevention can work wonder for sensitisation. The writing was top-notch and so were the performances. For the first time, we saw Koel Mullick in a new avatar.
What are your favourite Srijit Mukherji movies? Do let me know in comments.