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.
The Übermensch (meaning super-human) is a concept developed by philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. In his book ‘Thus Spake Zaruthastra’ Nietzsche describes how God is dead and it is up to the Übermensch to set the world in order, for a better future. Srijit Mukherji borrows this concept in his latest venture ‘Vinci Da’ – a psychological thriller that questions the very concept of what is good and evil.
Vinci Da is the story of a mentally-deranged man Adi Bose, who considers himself Nietzsche’s Übermensch. A ‘lawyer’ by choice, Adi had a troubled childhood (having murdered his own father, just half an hour before turning 18; thus avoiding capital punishment) – more of that later. Adi Bose is law unto himself, who does not care about a few ‘collateral damages’ in this war against law-breakers who escape justice because of the corrupt system.
To bring his ‘noble cause’ to fruition, Adi Bose hires the services of a prosthetics make-up artist in Tollywood – Vinci Da. A Leonardo Da Vinci fanatic, Vinci Da finds it hard to find work in Tolly-para because of his uprightness and refusal to budge from the righteous stand. Inadvertently, his artistic acumen suffers as he is forced to earn a livelihood by working for local drama companies. It is not a surprise that he laps up the proposal of a challenging work from Adi Bose, which will demonstrate to the world the wonders he has up his sleeves.
What follows is an intense Ken and Abel-esque clash between two ideas. Vinci Da is torn between his artistic enterprises and the hapless suffering the innocent ‘collaterals’ have to bear. Adi Bose, on the other hand, metamorphoses from the vigilante who wants to rid the society from law-breakers into a shrewd, manipulative, power-hungry villain who would stop at nothing. In signature-Srijit Mukherji style, the duel enters the final act with a bang and curtains fall with a dramatic twist. Fate has the artist imprisoned in his own work.
‘Vinci Da’ may not be Srijit Mukherji’s best work, but surely is among the front-runners to qualify as his best five films. With power-packed performances by the two leading actors, hard-hitting dialogues (a forte of Srijit Mukherji), spellbinding art direction, foot-tapping music by Anupam Roy and the brilliant use of lighting in some scenes, Vinci Da easily makes an impact. The chemistry that Ritwick Chakraborty (Adi Bose) and Rudranil Ghosh (Vinci Da) share would remind one of Feluda and Maganlal Meghraj.
There are scenes in the film, which stay with you. The dream sequence where Leonardo Da Vinci is painting Mona Lisa – with Rudranil and Sohini’s voiceovers, or the sequence before the interval where Adi Bose demolishes Vinci Da’s reverence from Da Vinci, are truly of international standards. And then, there is the gruesome murder sequence in the beginning of the film. Riddhi Sen hits the ball out of the stadium as young Adi Bose.
Alas, after all the memes and videos on DCDD Poddar, one had to satisfy themselves with a scene or two of the enigmatic character – forever in pursuit of Bose and Vinci Da. Even in his short presence on screen, Anirban Bhattacharya is a beacon that shines bright. As does Sohini Sarkar as Vinci Da’s love interest, and a pivotal character who significantly influences the game of nerves between Adi Bose and Vinci Da. The hasty climax and jarring background score in some scenes are the only sore-points in an otherwise Srijit-esque thriller.
As I had said in my immediate reaction on Facebook after watching the film, Vinci Da is more psychological than thriller. The film provokes you to think and question your belief-systems. Notwithstanding Nietzsche and Übermensch, Vinci Da is also a socio-political commentary on the daily mockery of democracy in our country, that has become the mainstay.
May be, our very own Übermensch will rise from within.
My Rating: 3.5/5 stars
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