Femme Fatale – the phrase that strikes your mind after watching ‘Rabindranath Ekhane Kawkhano Khete Asenni’.
Mushkan Zuveri, the enigmatic, mysterious, esoteric protagonist of the novel by Md Nazimuddin, comes alive on screen. Azmeri Haque Badhon portrays Mushkan with élan, as if the character was penned for her to play. The owner of a restaurant in a quaint town of Sundarpur, she is known for (in)famous for her cooking skills. But she has more cards up her sleeves, than meets the eye. Investigator Nirupam Chanda’s (Nure Chhafa in the original) arrival in this small town ruffles up feathers and sets in motion incidents that disturb the ‘beauty’ of the idyllic suburb.
Whether you’ve read the original novel or not, you’d be hooked to this web-series directed by Srijit Mukherji from the word go. He has not only breathed life into the characters created by Mohd Nazimuddin, but made them his own, by adding the little eccentricities, and smart one-liners. To distil 400-odd pages of written text into nine episodes is no mean feat, but Srijit Da has successfully assimilated the flavour of the original work, with creative licenses of his own, making this a visual treat. Specially the sequence in the flashback, which I do not want to disclose to avoid giving out spoilers, will sicken you to the core – in a good way (such is the brilliance of Srijit Da’s craft).
Talking of visuals, one must acknowledge the brilliant ‘dark’ setting of this series, matching the ‘gothic horror’ theme of the plot. A mysterious lady who lives alone in a mansion, disappearance of male guests at an eatery, graves dug in advance, a pond full of crocodiles, foggy nights and nocturnal truth missions, idiosyncrasies of the police bureaucracy, and an uncomfortable truth at the heart of it all – REKKA makes for a wholesome meal of weekend binge.
Those who make it possible – Azmeri Haque Badhon, Rahul Bose, and Anirban Bhattacharya as Mushkan, Nirupam and Ator Ali respectively, live up to their characters to the T. Sequences where Badhon’s character sings Rabindranath’s songs – as if they were composed for precisely these moments, feel eerily magical, yet horrifying. She has an amicable charm, a fatal attraction in her manner, which makes her so enigmatic and powerful. Badhon carries REKKA on her shoulders with her fluid, natural performance.
Rahul Bose on the other hand is suave, stoic, serious. A departure from the original character in the book, who was more of a ‘gobechara’ officer. The final meeting between Nirupam and Mushkan was no less than David battling Goliath, no prizes for guessing, who took the laurels. Anirban, on the other hand, brings to life Ator Ali – the police informer, with his eccentric shenanigans. Not for a moment does it feel we are watching Anirban act. He embodies Ator Ali to the core.
Although Kharaj Khasnobish doesn’t have much space in REKKA, but in the sequel his character assumes a significant role, so where’s expecting Anjan Dutt to deliver his above-mediocrity level performance, as usual. Anirban Chakraborti, too, delivers as the OC of Sundarpur in his limited capacity in the scheme of things.
The man of the match is obviously Srijit Mukherji. Adapting a literary work is no child’s play, specially since comparisons with the original (damned if you deviate, damned if you don’t) are bound to come up. In REKKA, he has remained true to the text, but made the characters his own baby. More importantly, he has added the essence of Rabindranath, who was missing in the original text (apart from the title).
All I can say after watching REKKA is that it was a Friday well-spent. And I hope to catch the sequel soon. And may be we can actually have Chanchal Chowdhury in the cast (as the influential minister).
My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
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.