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.
Durga Pujo is now synonymous with Srijit Mukherjee, just the way Christmas is for Sandip Ray. From Autograph to Chatushkone, the bar has always been set a notch higher. From the complexities of relationships and untamed ambition to the psychological murder mystery, Srijit da has time and again proved his mettle. With Chatushkone, Srijit da has not only outdid Jaatishwar (his best till date) but etched his place in the echelons of Bengali film industry.
Chatushkone 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, Chatushkone is a journey of introspection; it is the song of life.
Films within films have been done many times before in Bengali cinema; Rituparno Ghosh was a pioneer. Srijit da has not only given a fitting tribute to his Sir, but also surpassed Rituparno’s way of storytelling through year jump. The four stories, and their colour gradations, stay without even after the credits roll. Then there is the fifth story… an Ace hidden in the pack of King, Queen and Joker…
Music is an integral part of Srijit Mukherjee’s films and Chatushkone does not disappoint. We cannot thank him enough for the immensely talented Lagnajita… celebrating spring in autumn was possible only because of her melodious voice. And Boba Tunnel joins the elite league of life’s anthems after Amake Amar Mawto, Ei Srabon and E Tumi Kemon Tumi…
Even as I pour in my thoughts in this ‘review’ I am dying to scream my lungs out about the stupendous climax (and the anti-climax before that). I will desist myself from doing so. Do not try to guess the ending; even if you do, the twist in the tale will stump you.
Hats off to Parambrata for the heart-wrenching performance in the last 15-odd minutes of the film. The less said about the magnificence of Aparna Sen or Gautam Ghosh the better. The true revelation in the film was undoubtedly Chiranjeet. What a comeback!
The only thorn in this bouquet of roses that will prick you is the track between Anindo and Kaneenica. Their story demanded a proper closure, not the subtle hint left behind by the director for the audience to nibble upon.
All said and done, Chatushkone strikes the perfect balance between a thought-provoking ‘serious’ film and mass appeal. Some films stand out for the craft, some for their actors and some for the message. Chatushkone will be remembered for the style of storytelling.
My Rating: 4/5 stars