Before I go onto describe my feelings after watching the film, I would like to make things clear – after the phenomenal Baishey Srabon, I was mightily disappointed with Srijit Mukherjee for Hemlock Society. Next when he came up with Mishawr Rahashya, I had given up on him. The hope he had kindled with Autograph was dead. Thankfully, I was hasty in my judgment.
Jaatishwar 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. One is constantly reminded of Rituparno Ghosh’s style of story-telling as the frames shift from 2013 to sepia-toned shots of Kobiyal Lorai in Shobhabazar.
Music is the mainstay of Jaatishwar and it stays with you. Kabir Suman proves once again why he is the best man alive in Bengal who understands music the best. Credit goes to Srijit for the great production design that makes us believe we are actually in 18th century Pharasdanga or Bonedi baris of North Kolkata. If only the shots didn’t abruptly end at times, the experience would have been more serene. The music arrangement for the climax song, and the poetic execution of it brought tears to my eyes. Having said that, it was an eyesore that Kabir Suman’s name ranked higher in credits than the likes of Lalon Fakir.
Srijit also deserves credit for casting the right person in the right role. I have been a fan of Swastika right from her ‘Ek Akasher Neeche’ days till ‘Kodolibala’ enthralled the audiences two years back. She essays her role with such perfection, that one easily falls in love with her. She in fact reminds me of myself – my ‘activism’ for the Bangla culture and language. Every actor who’s played the role of Kobiyals, did an amazing work. Specially Ananya Chatterjee and Kharaj Mukherjee, whose grace and expressions make you believe you are actually sitting in the Thakurdalan of Shovabazar Rajbari, swaying to the lyrics of Kobigaan.
Mamata Shankar as the mother, Riya sen and Rahul as Swastika’s buddies, Abir – needless to mention what great talents they are. Jishu wins hearts again; this has been his best film since Chitrangada, and one of his most mature performances. Even in his short appearance the psychiatrist performs exceptionally well, taking me back to my Presi days when I loved neurobiology as a subject (my summer internship was about memory formation, too).
However, the film belongs to Prosenjit. He once again proves why he is THE boss of Bengali cinema. Effortlessly swaying between the roles of Kushal Hazra and Antony Firingi, he carries out the idiosyncrasies of a ‘Jatishwar’ – a man cauht between the past and his present, haunted by a memory that wouldn’t let him die in peace – with such finesse that leaves you breathless (specially the bedroom scene shot in red; it was one of best sequences in Bangla cinema).
Easily shifting from the graceful Portuguese who adopts Bengali culture, to the mentally-disbalanced assistant librarian who is trying to come to terms with his past, Prosenjit’s performance remains etched in your memory for hours after the end credits roll. The scene where Kushal suddenly reminisces about his past life, upon seeing Firingi Kalibari, is picturised breathtakingly.
Modern generations of Bengalis, who look down upon even Rabindrasangeet, might discover a whole new arena of Bangla culture. So rich is our heritage of music that it might take generations of neglect to wipe off remnants of these gharanas from the soil of this state. The impact of Kobigaan on the Gen Y Bengali can be understood from the presence of Joy Jogendra or Krishte aar Khrishte on the iPod playlist of several ‘Bongs’ these days.
Looking forward to Chatushkone more eagerly than ever.
My rating: 4.5/5 stars
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