March 2, 2011 (Calcutta Tube): Abhisandhi is a 2011 Bengali movie directed by Tarun Chatterjee with Rituparna Sengupta, Mukul Dev, Chidananda Dasgupta and others in the cast. Read the film review at Calcutta Tube.
ABHISANDHI – BAD REHASH OF A REHASH
Banner: Today’s Cinema
Presented by: Alok Kumar Roy and Abhijit De
Produced by Shibnath De
Story and Direction: Tarun Chatterjee
Music: Kalyan Sen Barat
Cinematography: Rakesh Kumar
Editor: Atish Dey Sarkar
Art Director: Tapas Sarkar
Starring: Rituparna Sengupta, Mukul Dev, Kalyan Ray, Barun Chanda, Sreela Majumdar, Nimu Bhoumick, Sanjay Swaaraj and Chidananda Dasgupta.
Crime never pays.” Who said so? If one were to accept the premise at the end of Abhisandhi, crime definitely pays much and in many ways. This anti-climax marks just one of the two points of originality in Tarun Chatterjee’s directorial debut Abhisandhi. Edward Norton won the Golden Globe and an Oscar nomination for the diabolic criminal Aaron Stampler he portrayed in Primal Fear (!996). The performance made us forget the sex appeal of Richard Gere as Martin Vail, the lawyer defending Aaron accused of the murder of a Catholic archbishop. Ajay Devgun gave a repeat performance in Deewangee (2002). He was good but nowhere near Norton.
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Mukul Dev performs the role of Biswanath/Shankar Jha, the same character in Abhisandhi. Not knowing Bengali, the director decided to get his voice dubbed by the brilliant actor Shantilal Mukherjee. Instead of going into this double-trouble, why didn’t Chatterjee ask Shantilal to do the role himself? With his sparse commitments in Bollywood, Mukul is out of practice. He appears distinctly uncomfortable in a very difficult and challenging role. The Richard Gere/Akshay Kumar character of the defence lawyer becomes a woman in Abhisandhi, noted lawyer Rudrani Som (Rituparna Sengupta) estranged from her husband Aniruddha Sen (Sanjay Swaraj), also a lawyer. Rudrani believes Biswanath to be innocent of the murder of the general manager of the railways in whose house he worked as a servant. In court, her ex-husband is the prosecution attorney. Was the choice of an out-of-work Sanjay Swaraj from Bollywood whose voice also needed dubbing, dictated by a streamlined budget? Is there a famine of Bengali actors in Tollygunge?
Apart from the twist in the anti-climax, the director has added an original track of a mafia don Abbas (Kalyan Ray) who, strangely, appears to be a good friend of Rudrani. Aniruddha does not like him at all. This track pulls the film further down the lower rung it has already carved itself into. Chatterjee could have made a sparkling debut even with this borrowed plot. But the only thing that sparkles in Abhisandhi is the sterling, dignified performance of Rituparna Sengupta in the central role. Though Biswanath should have been at the centre, Rituparna appropriates the space by virtue of her wonderful performance. She looks good too and reveals an aesthetic and socially fitting dress sense. Barun Chanda as the psychiatrist is his usual, Anglicised-Bengali-speaking self who fails to see through Biswanath’s diabolic plan to fool him. The maid Biswanath is in love with is relegated into the margins. Sreela Majumdar is wasted. Kalyan Roy’s performance is confined to benevolent smiles. Octogenarian Chidananda Dasgupta, the senior most and the best film scholar in the country, is sadly reduced to a junior artiste in a one-scene appearance which need not have encroached into the film’s space at all.
Kalyan Sen Barat’s music is a shocking disappointment considering the range he is capable of and the mastery he has over all genres of music. The songs are forced impositions in a narrative that has no space for songs. The editing is half-hearted but the art direction is okay. I wonder what makes debut directors fall back on copy-and-paste jobs for their first film.
Shoma A. Chatterji