Tollywood filmmaker Haranath Chakroborty entertains children and amuses the audience in general with his rendering of Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay’s eerie and eccentric characters in Chayamoy.
A pot of gold coins of historical importance seems to disrupt the quiet ambience of Shimulgarh when it is silently unearthed from its archaic past by a London based Bengali scholar and changes hands in the most interesting manner. The script and sequences follow Mukhopadhyay’s original storyline trimmed aptly for the screen and the main plot starts in the courtyard of Gagan Sapui, Shimulgar’s affluent but miserly pawnbroker where an apparent thief is beaten up and relieved of his possessions by Sapui’s guards. When the crowd gets interested in the stolen goods, Sapui peeks into the bag and confirms that those were indeed his but refrains from revealing its contents. Thus begins a race between the greedy and the good that witnesses characters, each more peculiar than the other who adds varied flavour to the adventure.
There is the fraud ecclesiastic Kaali Kapalik, peeking into all the village secrets – the actual enigma behind his ‘powerful insights’ – and trading them conveniently for his own benefits.
In contrast, the nonagenarian but sturdy Gourgobinda, cherishing the dream of living a further fifty years, makes it his sole duty to shield the weak and fight for justice, no matter how powerful the enemy might be.
Another interesting character is Ramapada Biswas, the village astrologer gone crazy owing to his calculations foretelling his own bleak future, blurts out prophecies at no particular moment.
Again there is Lakkhan, Gagan Sapui’s burly bodyguard and a man with a good heart, questionable past and a weaker brain, trying to make amends for his evil past and hot on the trail of the man with two left hands.
While the wealthy Gagan Sapui aspires for an ever increasing fortune and tries expanding it by any means, the penniless Haripada – the lone goldsmith of the village – takes all the risk to protect the innocent and to preserve priceless artifacts from being tainted. In fact his entire family, poverty stricken but principled, serves as one of the most important pillars of the plot.
Finally there is the friendly ghost Chayamoy, materializing at the right place at the right moment, scaring off the evil and guiding the worthy towards the right path and finally liaising the past with the present, he plays the central theme and steers the course of the movie and its plot.
These and many more participate in the excitement that will no doubt bring thrill to the young crowd and also will put a smile in their guardians’ faces. Infact if the dream sequence of Gagan Sapui could have been omitted it could have been more aptly termed as a children’s movie, but with that too, it is no less an enjoyable entertainer for the viewers.
The actors were cast more or less fittingly for the roles, the first and foremost being Dipankar Dey portraying the greedy and lusty Gagan Sapui to perfection. Sabysachi Chakraborty in the title role was in no way less fascinating and so does Ramen Roychowdhury in his short but crisp appearance as the eccentric Ramapada Biswas. But Paran Bandyopadhyay, quite surprisingly, seemed a bit stiff in his characterization of Gourgobinda.
Though the veterans provided the mainstay for the smooth sailing of the script, the lion’s share of my personal admiration goes to the trio of Sudip Mukhopadhyay (Lakkhan), Shantilal Mukherjee (Kaali) and Debesh Roychowdhury (Haripada). Beholding Sudip Mukhopadhyay as Lakkhan was surely a novel experience for the viewers, both young and old. Moulding himself to represent a brute and that too in a children’s film, he projected a character who reveres the elders, is confident of his strength but scared out his wits by ghosts and chiefly remorseful of his violent acts. With the blend of emotions that Sudip Mukhopadhyay displayed, the character truly represented Lakkhan that the original book defined. In the same breath Shantilal was in no way less admirable. Putting up a wonderful performance throughout, his expression as it varied from disbelief to awe when the persons he assumed as opera artists turned out to be ghosts, will be remembered for a long time and remains as one of the most memorable scenes of the movie. Finally Debesh Roychowdhury has been another apt choice who elevated the character of Haripada to a newer dimension. Haripada’s looks of agony as he watches over his family devoid of a proper meal had been as much realistically portrayed by Debesh as was his naïve delight and grateful acknowledgement as he senses a more bright future. Besides them Gourab Chakraborty as Indra Pratap and Master Adhiraj as the young Alankar have done justice to their roles.
Souvik Basu’s appealing cinematograpy truly brought to fore the rustic beauty of the countryside and provided a soothing backdrop for the adventures as it unfolded. But a disappointment was the editing (Rabiranjan Maitra) that could have been more perfect. Same can be said of the animations that were quite good in isolation but when considering its fusion with the movie, it remains a bit childish. Make up and costume design is also another factor that required a more detailed attention as while the ghosts has been aptly attired and most of the characters were correctly clothed but Alankar’s appearance never projected the abject poverty that his family is subjected to as was Indra’s disguise that didn’t do justice to his intelligence. Debojyoti Mishra’s music provided a refreshing relief in the songs but somehow it felt a bit immaterial for the film. Another point of concern was the less cohesiveness between scenes that seemed contradictory given the length of the film. But keeping these aside, Haranath Chakroborty deserves praise for his efforts to make a film – that certainly promises a successful run – on the genre that is rarely considered to create serious impact.
– Anirban De