October 18, 2010, KOLKATA (Calcutta Tube): AUTOGRAPH is a 2010 Bengali Film starring Prosenjit, Indraneel Sengupta, Nandana Sen in lead roles directed by Srijit Mukherjee. A must watch film that would touch your heart and soul.
Cast and Crew:
- Banner: Shree Venkatesh Films in Association with Cinergy
- Written and Directed by: Srijit Mukherjee
- D.O.P. Soumik Haldar
- Music: Debojyoti Misra
- Lyrics: Anupam Roy, Srijato and Srijit Mukherjee
- Editing: Bodhaditya Banerjee
- Cast: Rudraprasad Sengupta, Biswajeet Chakraborty, Prosenjit, Indraneel Sengupta, Nandana Sen, Pijush Ganguly, Dwijen Banerjee, Dhruv Mookerji, Sohini Pal and others
- Date of release: October 14, 2010
- Rating: 7/10
Review: AUTOGRAPH – IMPRESSIVE DEBUT
Autograph is not about the world of films. It is not about the struggles, the pains and the vainness of the reigning superstar of Bengali cinema Arun Chatterjee (Prosenjit). It is about the pressures that bear down upon the people involved in the entire process of filmmaking. It is about how relationships within the narrow confines of film-making created out of professional and creative necessity mutate in ways so radical that the subjects involved are not even aware till it is too late. It is about how the media can create a character that does not exist simply by weaving a spidery and colorful web of attractive lies around a superstar celebrity, passing judgement on him and painting him in colors closer to black which could be both untrue and unfair. Arun Chatterjee, the man behind the make-up and the costume and away from the movie camera, is not really the Arun Chatterjee the superstar the media has created. The pressures that bear on the star – the uncertainty of the box office success of three successive films, or, the arrogance that comes of the knowledge that his name in the credits makes all the difference between a hit and a flop, are interwoven into the inner journey of Arun Chatterjee who discovers unknown facets of himself as work on Aajker Nayak, that of a superstar in a new director’s first film begins.
Autograph is a celluloid statement on a superstar’s emotional isolation and professional anxiety. It is also a comment on the fickle pretensions of the so-called, uncompromising filmmaker Shuvobrata Mitra (Indraneel Sengupta) and the innocence of Srinandita (Nandana Sen), a theatre actress who remains completely ignorant about the manipulations the new director, her live-in boyfriend is capable of just to plug his film before its release. It offers insightful bytes into filmmaking/film-acting as choreographed on film, through carefully choreographed mise-en-scene, through imaginatively lit production design where the entire backdrop, plus the music and the sound motifs form a part of the cast and, through metaphorical music, matter-of-fact, no-nonsense dialogue with elaborately designed pauses and eloquent silences.
Watch the Trailer of AUTOGRAPH Bengali Movie
There are the typical stereotypes – the arrogant producer of mainstream films who misspells his first name like a fashion statement; the theatre director who has a very poor notion about film acting; the superstar’s friend who is always around him but living off his stardom and the associated fringe benefits that come along; the self-appointed hanger-on astrologer who keeps insisting that the star’s “stars are not quite good,” and so on.
The transformations within the three characters and their relationships are shown through small scenes. Shubhobrata’s growing rudeness towards the production man he was so soft to in the beginning; his cold treatment of his friend and his wife who drop in on the sets unannounced; his open rebuking of his heroine for not being able to deliver after repeated takes; his peeping from behind the curtain to watch the superstar convince her to produce the right emotional response, then, instead of being hurt, his asking the camera to start rolling. He feigns anger and hurt when Srinandita comes home very late after a dinner date with her hero. He takes her on a long boat ride on the river purportedly to get together again but really to spill the beans about how he has ensured a guaranteed full house for his first film. Nandana and Indraneel have done very well indeed but Srinandita’s character needed some more exploration. The scene in which she weeps bitterly inside the cab as she moves out is touching. The affluence of the lovers’ lifestyle fails to convince.
Prosenjit lives his part as Arun Chatterjee the superstar, Arun Chatterjee, the hero of the film-within-the-film Aajker Nayak and Arun Chatterjee, the ordinary man who finds that his celebrity status has stripped him of the freedom to express his feelings for a girl he has begun to care for. Betrayed and lost, he sits alone in his spacious apartment and plays chess with himself to purge him of the shock of betrayal. He often breaks the diegetic space between the audience and himself by looking straight into the camera, defining the vainness of a superstar, distanced from the superstar Arindam Mukherjee in Ray’s Nayak of 1966. He is shown to be a man with not a very glorious past that has its own stories of exploitation and betrayal. But his present is whitewashed and starched and ironed to present a picture that, in the final analysis, appears to stretch his goodness a bit too far. Prosenjit has outperformed himself in this film.
Debajyoti Mishra’s music and the lyrics of the beautiful song-tracks add a different dimension to the film. Memorable are amaake amaar moto thaakte dao, benche thakar gaan, Chol rastaaye besides bhaag jana hai kahan in Hindi. The lyrics, imaginatively put together by Sreejato, Srijit and Anupam Roy and the music live out the spirit of the film and reach beyond the confines of their celluloid existence and sustenance.
Shoumik Haldar’s camera is perfect chemistry for the story he captures on his camera – closing in on the swift changes in the facial expressions of the hero, the medium shots of Srinandita teaching her boyfriend how to use chopsticks, or getting into cushion fights, or, sharing in the gay camaraderie of lovers. The scenes showing Srinandita in semi-silhouette waiting at the station for the train to take her to some unknown destination as the camera cuts to close in on the bound script of the film she has left behind on a bench are moving. The flux in the relationship is in direct contrast with the lovey-dovey togetherness of the married couple enacted sparklingly by Sohini Pal and Dhruv Mookerji. The nightmare scene captured in diffused shots with white-cloaked ghosts from Arun’s past gliding away in silence as if in limbo is another masterful stroke. Arun’s captivity within his synthetic image is tellingly depicted through the massive sketches and portraits that surround the walls of his flat. Beautiful top-angle shots taken from a long distance show the hero driving along a national highway, the lights flashing along the way dotting the darkness of the night. A bunch of white pigeons in flight pass across in the other direction, one after another, of their own volition, free from the trappings the hero is bound by.
A teenaged dhaba boy somewhere away from the city asks top star Arun Chatterjee for an autograph when the star drops by to pay the boy his unpaid bill. The boy does not have an autograph book. So he rushes into the eatery and runs back with a paper napkin. The smiling star signs the napkin, presses the currency note the boy was returning into his palm and drives away into the nothingness of his lonely, isolated world. It marks a fitting end to a film that is a tribute to Satyajit Ray’s Nayak (1966.) This is the last scene of Srijit Mukherjee’s directorial debut Autograph.
Amake Amar Moto Banchte Dao
The young theatre actress gets back to rehearsing her stage part in front of her video cam when her film is over and ready for release. Arun Chatterjee drops in suddenly and pours his heart out in a moment of alcoholic vulnerability. She forgets to switch the video cam off. The hero’s outpourings get recorded to become ‘breaking news’ on a television channel the following night, unknown to the theatre actress. The three worlds – the world of Arun Chatterjee, the world of Shubhobrata Mitra, and the world of Srinandita fall apart, collapse and break down only to begin again, differently and sadly. Some of this sadness spills over and you carry bits and pieces of it out of the theatre. “I am Arun Chatterjee. I am the industry,” is the superstar’s favourite one-liner. It also underwrites the anxiety and the tragedy that underlie the statement.
Shoma A. Chatterji