Aatta Aater Bongaon Local is a collage of incidents of public humiliation and physical insults indulged in by goons with strong political backing picked from news stories. The scenario is jeopardized when Ananta Das (Tapas Pal) a lowly clerk who commutes to work on Bongaon Local triggers physical outrage against persistent attacks on senior citizens, children, parents and women. Das is not the proverbial anti-hero. He is a timid man who, like his fellow commuters, chooses to look the other way. One fine day, a sudden jerking sound on his spine triggers him into action. Much to the chagrin of his ordinary wife but the cheer of his silent father, he motivates others into action too.
AATTA AATER BONGAON LOCAL – GOOD STORY, DEFEATIST CLIMAX
Shoma A. Chatterji
- Direction: Debaditya Bandopadhyay
- Banner: Unimass Entertainment
- Story, script and dialogue: Padmanava Dasgupta
- Music: Tanmoy Ghosh
- Lyrics: Sreejato
- Editor: Sanjib Dutta
- Art Direction: Indraneel Ghosh
- Costume: Agnimitra Paul
- Cast: Manoj Mitra, Haradhan Bandopadhyay, Tapas Pal, Raghubir Yadav, Anamika Saha Rajesh Sharma, Swastika Mukherjee, Sonali Choudhury, Anusree Das, Samik Sinha and others
- Date of release: April 27, 2012
- Rating: 06/10
The challenge of a film with a strong, socio-political agenda is not easy especially when the protagonist dominates every frame, every shot and every scene marginalizing thereby, the important cameo characters. But Debaditya meets this challenge head-on with a committed and consistent performance by Tapas Pal as Ananta Das who has a special ‘look’ created for him by designer Agnimitra Pal. There is a repeated sound metaphor of Ananta Das’ bent spinal cord suddenly straightening up. This is fore grounded in the opening scene with Ananta Das’ spine X-Ray examined by a noted orthopaedic surgeon (Haradhan Bandopadhyay). It marks a stunning opening that cuts into a dream scene with Ananta trying to make his way through a narrow, hazy corridor where Gods and Goddesses are walking through him in a procession followed by Bauls and other holy performers and the bloody faces of people he is in some way close to.
The cameos are excellently brought forth by Rajesh Sharma as the police officer caught in an ethical trap between ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, Sonali Choudhury as the girl whose brother was killed when he protested her molestation by a MLA’s son and his goons, Manoj Mitra who uses silence as his form of protest, Anusree Das as Ananta’s complaining wife, Kanchana Maitra as the sex worker who hides Ananta Das in her red-light shanty, Raghubir Yadav as a poor rickshawpuller who worships Ananta, Swastika as the television journalist and Haradhan as the doctor who winces into the camera to make his point and does it with great conviction.
Indraneel Ghosh’s art direction is authentic yet creative. He skillfully skirts the temptation to mount the film with a glamorous and glossy texture. Sanjib Dutta’s razor-sharp editing with its marked cuts, slashes and swipes adds to the raw mood. The dream scene is enriched by his imaginative editing. Tanmoy Ghosh’s music is good in parts but the philosophical and spiritual Baul number is too loud and does not jell with the film’s real and raw temperament. There is nothing remotely philosophical or spiritual about the film. The item number as a ruse to catch the MLA’s son is a superfluous commercial gimmick. Padmanava’s dialogue is stronger than his script which tends to drag in the repeated scenes inside the train and the prolonged climax. The television panel discussions, interviews and comments do not add to the script except give Swastika some added footage.
The death of Ananta Das defeats the basic concept the film is structured on – to raise your voice to destroy both the unjust and the injustice. The melodrama brings down the film by several notches. If a single man picks up cudgels against the powers-that-be invites a violent, untimely and wrongful death, then would he set an example for the others to follow? When the spinal cord refuses to bend, should it be broken before its time? Is this the message the film is trying to put across?