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Film Review: Yeti Obhijaan by Srijit Mukherjee

Durga Pujo brings with it several cultural and social appendages that make this autumnal festival so glorious and enthusing. Among the myriad cultural innuendos associated with Pujo, ‘Pujor Release’ tops the list for Bengalis, for sure. And when it comes to Pujo releases, Srijit Mukherjee is a name to reckon with. From Autograph (2010) to Zulfiqar (2016), his films have always added to the splendour and merriment during the festivities.

Pujobarshiki (or special Durga Pujo editions of popular magazines) is also ingrained in our festive culture, just like films. And Pujobarshiki Anandamela always meant embarking on a new adventure trail with Kakababu. When the trailer of ‘Yeti Obhijaan‘ released, it brought a wave of nostalgia with it. The trailer was visually stunning, the story was intriguing and the feel of the trailer was sensational. And the film lives up to the interest the trailer peeked in viewers.

The scale of this film is as grand as the Himalayas. Soumik Halder deserves the biggest credit for capturing the essence of this larger-than-life canvas in the most serene style. He almost humanises the Hills, which is endearing to say the least.The exceptional use of aerial shots, coupled with the vibrant texture of the varied hues of snow lets your imagination run wild. There is a scene where an injured Sherpa makes his way to the camp, sliding on the snow. The gleaming red colour of his blood, juxtaposed against the dry and sombre snow, was a spectacle to behold. The film also stands out for the breathtakingly beautiful use of lights in the underground caves, where the climax of the film unfolds.

One of the reasons why I had not liked Mishawr Rohosyo was the length of the film and unnecessary sub-plots. Yeti Obhijaan steers clear of these shortcomings and in a signature-Srijit style presents an exhilarating thriller that would be palatable for anyone from 8 to 80. The dialogues are witty and sharp. And the riveting background score is sure to give you goosebumps all along.

Prosenjit Chatterjee gets in to the skin of the character and makes it his own. His silent stares, signature limp, and quintessential Bangaliana will keep you on the edge of your seats. As Shantu, Aryan Bhowmick has come a long way from Mishawr Rohosyo. Even the character of Shantu has evolved and matured. In his small role, Jishu Sengupta again gives us a taste of his mettle.

Few years back, when Chander Pahar was adapted for the silver screen, the makers faced a flurry of angry reactions over the depiction of Bunyip. These are characters we have grown up with; we have visualised them in certain fashion in our own imaginations. Any conflict is bound to create a negative impact. In fact, after seeing the posters of Yeti Obhijaan, one question kept lingering in my mind. Will the Yeti go the Bunyip way? Srijit Mukherjee surely deserves a word of praise for his intelligent handling of the ‘myth’.

Overall, Srijit Mukherjee deserves a huge pat on the back, and a packet full of sweets from Balaram Mullick (wink) for setting the bar high yet again. Bengali cinema has never seen an adventure film of this magnitude, and finesse, before. This Durga Pujo, every Bengali must take a ride of nostalgia to the Alps with Yeti Obhijaan.

My Rating: 3.5/5 stars

P.S. I am taking My Alexa Rank to the next level with #MyFriendAlexa with BlogChatter. This is Post #3

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

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Movie Review: Begum Jaan by Srijit Mukherjee

 

I had rated Rajkahini on my blog 4/5 stars – the film had moved me, left me in tears as the end credits rolled. So, when I walked into the theatre today to watch Begum Jaan, there was trepidation in my heart. It was almost like I’d be tested as an audience to what extent I can separate the Rajkahini experience from Begum Jaan. Might I say, Srijit Mukherjee made it very easy because the first sequence itself was starkly different from the theatrical adaptation of Manto’s work that Rajkahini began with. I was at ease and for the next 130 odd minutes became a part of the kotha on Indo-Pak border that fought independence for freedom.

While Rajkahini was set in Bengal, Begum Jaan is based in Punjab. Abanindranath Thakur’s Rajkahini played a significant role in the film, specially in the end; here Ila Arun’s character tells stories of feisty daughters of India (which were cleverly depicted by Vidya in the film). While the basic premise of the film remained the same as Rajkahini, there were many changes to the script – some good, some bad. The Connaught Place sequence was a fitting addition to the film. The additional scene between Gulabo-Rubina was emotive. Several characters have been given a closure in the end, another creative input.

Vidya Balan – my favourite actress for the last decade and a half – was originally approached for Rajkahini. I always wondered how different the film would’ve been with her (Rituparna Sengupta gave her career best performance as Begum Jaan, so no comparisons). She steals the show with her bold, gritted, fiery portrayal of the brothel owner who would go to any extent to save her vatan, her kotha.

Rubina (wonderfully portrayed by Joya Ehsan) was my favourite character from Rajkahini who had the most beautiful scene ever written in Bengali cinema in recent times. Gauhar Khan has done justice to the part. Also, the great Naseeruddin Shah gave gravity to a role which was oft not remembered from Rajkahini.

I wish I could say the same for the rest of the supporting cast. The sense of loss and vengeance was missing from Ilias and Srivastava. Even some scenes where half their faces were shown did not aesthetically look as good as they did with Saswata-Kaushik. Their chemistry was somehow lacking. Gulabo was expressionless when confronted with the ultimate betrayal. Chunkey Pandey as Kabir was menacing enough but did not evoke the same horror and hate as Jishu Sengupta did in Rajkahini.

I felt the narrative moved a bit fast, so we could not connect to these characters in totality. The Holi song was completely out of place and the background score did not do justice to several great scenes – like the manhunt in the butchers’ market. However, the climax choked me as usual. ‘Woh subah hum hee se ayegi’ was a great substitute for ‘Bharat Bhagyo Bidhata’ and the visuals would simply stupefy you into a state of forbearance.

And above all, the last visual you take home with you as you walk out after Begum Jaan – that look on Vidya’s face when she closes the door of the kotha, that look of victory but the sense of loss, juxtaposed with the fluttering of the tricolour, will even make a heart of stone let the tears flow.

I had always wondered how would a sequel of Rajkahini be with Buchki (Laadli) in the lead. Begum Jaan has given us a glimpse of it. Begum Jaan and Rajkahini are two different films, for two different audiences. Comparisons would not be fair. Both shine in their own right.

My Rating: 3.5/5 stars

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

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