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Movie Review: Dhananjoy by Arindam Sil

15 August, 2004 brought the curtains down on the life Dhananjoy Chatterjee after 14 years of trials and tribulations. The central character to a heinous crime that shook the ‘Bhadralok’ city of Kolkata, Dhananjoy’s name evokes emotionally-charged responses from people even to this day. Accused of raping and murdering an 18-year old Hetal Parekh, Dhananjoy (who served as the security guard of the building where Hetal lived) claimed innocence till the day of his hanging.

 

dhananjoy movie reviewA still from the movie

 

The trial of Dhananjoy Chatterjee left many questions unanswered (he was unprecedentedly awarded death sentence solely based on circumstantial evidence when many key witnesses had made contrary statements in the court). There was a groundswell of clamour for his hanging at the time in Kolkata, led by none-other-than the wife of the then Chief Minister of the State, political pressure from the Gujarati vote-bank and a huge media pressure which led to the final culmination of Dhananjoy’s fate. Was he guilty? Or was he just another scapegoat sacrificed at the altar of our inept judicial system? Arindam Sil’s film explores the unsolved pieces of the puzzle.

The film is a gripping courtroom drama that compels you to challenge the notions you have lived with till now. It makes you question the system and assume a ringside view of life as it unfolds. The film can be separated into two parts: the first half explores the Dhananjoy trials as it happened in a flashback while the second half is a work of fiction where the case is reopened and available evidences re-examined and questioned in a trial. Although the film is judgmental, the director lets you be the judge of what could have transpired on 5 March, 1990.

The first half of ‘Dhananjoy’ has shades of inspiration from ‘Talvar’. It also has a ‘Roshomon’ style narration of the fateful incident. However, Arindam Sil shines in his story-telling with the daft writing and striking background score. Although the film indulges in melodrama at times, it is balanced by performances that will keep you to the edge of your seats.

A courtroom drama is expected to be dialogue-heavy, which can often get tedious for the audience to digest. In ‘Dhananjoy’ the scenes are interspersed with witty one-liners that keep the film from slipping into monotony. Kanchan Mullick and Mir (Kaushik Sen and Deepanjan Ghosh post intermission) play their parts well as the lawyers in the case. In fact, the legalities in this film were more believable and ‘real’ than most films are. Kabya Sinha, played by Mimi, is emotional yet focused. Mimi does full justice to her part.

Anirban Bhattacharya and Sudipta Chakraborty steal the show with their nuanced yet emotive performances. The stoic villainy portrayed by Sudipta is enough to send a shiver down your spine. Anirban Bhattacharya’s eyes do the talking for him. His slow walk to the gallows with Manna Dey’s ‘Mahasindhur Opar Hote’ will haunt your memories for days to come. These are performances that will define the year 2017 for Bengali cinema.

However, Kabya’s motivation to work in this case, that too four years after a man has been hanged, is a bit too much to handle. A more convincing back story could have added to the film. Why require a full-fledged trial to re-examine the evidence? With the research she had, she could have written a book instead. Also, was the public prosecutor in the second half only there for providing comic relief through objections? He hardly made a case. Moreover, the opening disclaimer says the film is purely a work of fiction, while the name as well as the promos belie the claim.

All controversies aside, there is an inherent honesty in the making of the film which sets ‘Dhananjoy’ apart. One must watch it with an open mind and separate the facts from the fiction while walking out of the theatres.

My rating: 3/5 stars

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

Music Review: Mohenjo Daro

Mohenjo Daro

Screen grab of T-Series Youtube page

 

When three great minds come together, there is bound to be magic. A R Rahman, Ashutosh Gowarikar and Javed Akhtar have teamed up after 8 long years (their last work together was Jodha Akbar) and boy-o-boy, the soundtrack of Mohenjo Daro has left me speechless. ARR does not fail to weave an experience of surreal hypnotism with his myriad sounds.

Last time I wrote a music review on my blog, it was Raanjhanaa. I proudly belong to the Rahmaniac cult, but not always does the music of ARR touch your heart like it did with Mohenjo Daro. Like Lagaan and Swades, ARR and Ashutosh gift us their romantic best with haunting melodies.

And the wizard is at his acoustic best in this album. I am not an expert in history and cannot profess on the evolution of music in the Indus Valley Civilization. But the element of tribal music infused throughout the album, with the mix of drums and percussions, will be nectar for your ears.

It is no easy task to compose music for period films. ARR has always excelled and delivered beyond expectations – whether it was the rudra veena in Lagaan or the baul composition in Mangal Pandey, the Mozart of Madras redefined music with his eccentricities. What sets Mohenjo Daro apart is the calmness of the compositions, as if divinity resides in the notes.

The album begins with grandeur, a celebratory composition. The title track ‘Mohenjo Daro’ would remind you of Azeem O Shan Shehenshah. The loud, confident and boisterous drums will clearly make you want to get up and shake a leg. The confluence of various elements in this melting pot of music will transport you to a state of trance. Sung elegantly by Arijit Singh, this amazing melee of myriad instruments is sure to make a mark in your hearts.

The title track is followed by ‘Sindhu Maa’. The serenity of the song reminds me of compositions by Tagore where his devotional songs and love songs became indistinguishable. Rahman’s music, combined with Akhtar’s poetry creates a long-lasting memory that sends shivers of joy down your spine. The voice of Sanah Moidutty, accompanied by the melodious flute, will dive straight into your heart, lock themselves in and throw the keys into an ocean of melody.

And as you recover from the trance, Sarsariya will grip you firm in its notes. You have no recourse but to give in to the catchy beats of the semi-romantic number which has mesmerising drum beats. In fact, as the song builds up pace in the beginning, you cannot help falling in love with the honey-laced vocals of Shaashaa Tirupati. Shashwat Singh is a great find by ARR.

‘Tu Hai’ has driven me crazy ever since I first listened to this album. A toned down version of Sindhu Maa, this song is the next ‘Tum Saath Ho’ with its heart-wrenching melody and love-laced lyrics. In the league of Marudaani, Medhuvagathan and O Rey Chhori, the song’s gravitas is heightened by ARR’s vocals. The flute interlaced with the tribal-military sounds, the melodious chirping of birds, the fantastic chorus in the end – every element just fits in to produce the best acoustic experience of a lifetime.

Whispers of the heart/mind are instrumental pieces where Arjun Chandy lends his vocals in a beautiful canvas of music. Every instrument used in these pieces are like palettes of colour that come together to paint a vibrant landscape that acts as your gateway to the world of fantasies. Similarly, The Shimmer of Sindhu is an instrumental rendition of Sindhuu Maa where the guitar and the flute string a note of ethereal bliss. The album ends with Lakh Lakh Tora, another instrumental version of Sarsariya. Tapas Roy strikes the notes of perfection with his mandolin and leaves you crave for more.

Mohenjo Daro is the kind of album you can listen to on loop from dawn to dusk, yet feel an emptiness overpower you after you press the stop button on your iPad. After a long time, here is an album that boasts of pure, unadulterated melodies sans the nerve-wrecking, mindless noise in the name of chartbusters. The honesty in the composition and the serenity of the notes will surely strike a chord.

My rating: 4.5/5 stars

DISCLAIMER: All Images Used In This Post Have Their Own Copyright

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