Baishe Srabon (2011)-Bengali Movie Review

Raima Sen and Parambrato Chatterjee in Bengali Film Baishe SrabonOct 12, 2011 (Calcutta Tube): Baishe Srabon is a 2011 Bengali movie directed by Srijit Mukherjee with Prosenjit, Goutam Ghose, Parambrata Chatterjee, Abir Chatterjee, Raima Sen and others in the cast. Read the Bengali film review at Calcutta Tube.


Banner: Shree Venkatesh Films

Story, script and direction: Srijit Mukherjee

Music and Lyrics: Anupam Roy

D.O.P. Soumik Haldar

Editing: Bodhaditya Banerjee

Cast: Prosenjit, Goutam Ghose (filmmaker), Parambrata Chatterjee, Abir Chatterjee, Rajesh Sharma, June Mailia and Raima Sen.

Rating: 06/10

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[ReviewAZON asin=”B005M2ACFE” display=”inlinepost”]Which genre does Srijit Mukherjee’s Baishe Srabon belong to? Is it a psychological thriller? Is it the story of the resurrection of a gone-to-seed, once celebrated, high-ranking police officer who is dragged from the debris of his existence to open a fresh page in the book of his life? Is it a love story? Or, is it a film that opens up a world of our policing fraternity who, perhaps are more sinned against than sinning?

Gautam Ghose in Baishe Srabon Bengali movieIt is all these and some more. These multiple layers of sub-texts to the main story of a mysterious ‘stone man’ killing men and women in the margins takes away from Baishe Srabon the nail-biting suspense the film’s promos, and the command of its talented director promised. The mystery follows a trail that is so obviously false that it cannot sustain the suspense. Nibaran Chakraborty (Gautam Ghose) is a crazy poet of the Hungrealist Poetry Movement in Kolkata in the 1960s who triggered the 1997 fire at the Kolkata Book Fair. He wanders across the lonesome bylanes and gullies of the city in the dead of night and recites his poetry to himself. The serial killings of victims who eke out a margin called ‘life’ happen in the dead of night. The serial killer leaves his signature behind – a handwritten poem by a famous poet.

Enter the irreverent, expletives-mouthing, abusive, rude, arrogant, dirty, bedraggled, smoking-and-drinking Probir Roy Choudhury (Prosenjit). He is a once-famous police officer suspended from the police force for good for misusing his power and treating prisoners as if he had a personal grudge against them. The ground of suspension was insanity. He gets into his intellectual mode and links the murders to the poets, the dates on which the murders are committed to anticipate the serial killer’s next victim. Abhijit Pakrashi (Parambrato Chatterjee) is his mail pillar of support.

Another sub-text is a love triangle between Abhijit and Amrita Mukherjee (Raima Sen) with Amrita’s childhood friend and current colleague (Abir Chatterjee) forming the third angle of the triangle. Threading these different tracks together – the Nibaran track, the Probir track, the love track and the hunting and chasing track is Anupam Roy’s lovely music and songs – all on the soundtrack that in some way takes away the grip on the script and does not really take the story forward. They are mood centric songs and except the one that follows the rains and the ‘Srabon’ track, do not quite jell into the proceedings.

The repeated references to the Hungrealist Movement in Poetry are too intellectual for the mass audience and the front benchers. But never mind, they keep their whistles and cheers at Probir’s expletives going whenever he utters one at no one in particular. “What size bra do you wear?” he once asks Abhi, shocking him out of his tearful mood after a break-up with his journalist girlfriend. Agatha Christie created a false trail with a ‘signature’ guy who left behind a railway guide at the site of murder in The ABC Murders (1936). This was a much simpler way of reaching out one thinks.

Baishe Srabon is a film where the acting both overshadows and saves the multi-layered and confusing content. Filmmaker Gautam Ghose who faces the camera after 29 years is amazing as the crazy poetry-mouthing Nibaran who, we think, is calling up Rabindranath Tagore to read his proofs. In the climax, the mystery of ‘Rabindranath’ turns out differently. But it comes on so fast and within so much of unravelling the intrigue that many will miss the connection completely. Prosenjit’s performance in his un-Prosenjit-like films no longer a surprises us. However, his glamour image is allowed to take over as soon as he gets out of his dungeon to take charge of the investigations into the serial killings with the poetry angle. His inner pain comes across in the shot where we see him break into silent tears after shutting the door of the electric crematorium carrying his wife’s body.

Parambrato is mind-blowing as the intelligent and intellectual police officer who cringes when Probir throws invectives left, right and centre, gets sick after several drinks at a pub because he is not used to it, almost chokes on his whisky because his emotions are running haywire. Abir Chatterjee as Amrita’s colleague offers the sole point of relief while Raima fills in purely as the sex and decorative element in an otherwise woman-free film. June Mallya in the briefest of cameos is impressive. Rajesh Sharma as the top brass police officer and Anindo Banerjee as Abhi’s jealous colleague are admirable.

Soumik Haldar orchestrates the camera to the action in a dynamic variety of ways. The camera pans across the physical ambience in the rains soon after Abhi’s and Amrita’s break-up with the rains crossing the skies to step into Abhi’s room to share his hurt and pain. There are spectacular shots in which the camera hurtles at top speed, following the chases in the dark and narrow bylanes of the city only to uncover a false trail. The semi-lit shots of the dilapidated mansion which Probir lives in, both the exterior and his dungeon-like room becomes an almost abstract contemplation of the visual effects of accelerated motion (first seen in D.W. Griffith’s The Girl and Her Trust in 1912)  This looks visually very stunning but is often more confusing than shedding light on the suspense.

Baishe Srabon is a film that is very good in terms of acting, but quite low on both the suspense and the romance – the gripping, nail-biting, edge-of-the-seat suspense is absent. The conflict arising out of the triangular love story does not work much.

– Shoma A. Chatterji

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