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Movie Review – Dwitiyo Purush by Srijit Mukherji

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.

 

The ensemble

 

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.

Book Review: ‘So Now You Know – A Memoir of Growing Up Gay in India’ by Vivek Tejuja

“So when did you realise you are gay?”

“Who plays the role of woman when you do it?”

“Hi. You from? Your pic please. Do you have place?”

Aren’t we all tired of these same old clichéd questions, that keep coming our way, whether we like them or not? Don’t we all have those moments when we just want to simply scream ‘STFU’ from the rooftop and move on with life? Haven’t we all been through times when all we wanted was to hookup badly, and felt a deep sense of void grip us during the act?

If your answers to all those questions have been ‘yes’ – Congratulations. You are gay, and you know it.

Reading through ‘So Now You Know – A Memoir of Growing Up Gay in India’ by Vivek Tejuja, one could not help wondering how similar, yet different, our lives have been. Growing up in a joint family, being bullied in school, hetero-normative relatives who took it upon themselves to scare effeminism out of you, finding solace in books, the random hook-ups while longing for that one true love to come in your life, the penchant for opening up to those you love, the dejection when your friends become distant when they discover you are different – we have all been through life.

Vivek’s book took me back in time – having a crush on Dino Morea or Milind Soman and not having anyone to share it with, the straight friend in school whose company you found solace in, but he never reciprocated the feelings, trying to convince myself I can have feelings for girls – and lying about having a crush on a classmate to friends, the online chatrooms where strangers became acquaintances, blind dates, awkward hook-ups, insatiable urge to get into the pants of a hot ‘straight’ guy at the pub, falling for the guy who would ultimately let you down – been there done that.

His writing is so conversational that I almost felt like we were actually sitting by the sea at some coffee shop and discussing our lives. Vivek’s book is cathartic to an extent, too. It makes you look back in time and admit to the mistakes you could have rectified, or the sweet nothings you could cling on to.

Vivek came out to his family. I haven’t (well, my friends, colleagues and some of my cousins know). I never understood the deal with ‘coming out’. But then again, to not be able to share your ‘self’ with the people who matter makes life elusive and intangible. One cannot empathise enough with him, for not being able to share his ‘truth’ with his father – man to man.

Identities and stereotypes don’t define who we are. But they exist, may be for a reason. Sexuality is hardly the identity to label someone by. But in this world it sticks to your existence. It is our choice whether we want to live by it. In this endless search for life and love, we must first come to terms with ourselves. And Vivek surely has lived his life on his own terms.

‘So Now You Know’ connects with you on a personal level; the honesty behind the words give meaning to the feelings left unsaid. With so little ‘queer literature’ in India, I am sure this book will inspire many to come forward and share their stories. May be then we would truly be emancipated and inclusive.

My Rating: 4/5 stars

DISCLAIMER: All Images Used In This Post Have Their Respective Copyrights

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