Verdict: Feluda magic works in spurts in ‘Gorosthane Sabdhan’;
Director: Sandip Ray;
Producer: Mou Raychowdhury;
Cast: Sabyasachi Chakraborty, Saheb Bhattacharya, Bibhu Bhattacharya, Tinu Anand;
The Feluda theme music still sends a familiar thrill down the spine. Even though it is now 36 years after it was heard for the first time in Satyajit Ray’s famous movie ‘Sonar Kella’. The tall, handsome and inordinately bright detective has made sure there’s a bit of a child in every Bengali.
So another Feluda adventure by Ray’s son Sandip is welcome. But the detective of ‘Gorosthane Sabdhan’ has none of the flair of the original. To actor Sabyasachi Chakraborty’s credit, he is alert, observant and athletic for his age. But alas! He is not alert, observant, and athletic enough for Feluda.
Still less appropriate is Topshe, Feluda’s acolyte. Saheb Bhattacharya’s callow youth does little to flesh out Feluda’s teenaged cousin and constant companion to satisfaction. Jatayu (Bibhu Bhattacharya) works far too hard to make people laugh and ends up being quite unfunny. Will someone tell him, popular thriller writer Lalmohan Ganguly is no joker; it is just that his ways are comical enough to tickle people into spontaneous laughter?
Sandip Ray sets his film in the present instead of the late 1970s, the time it rightfully belongs to, like he did with his other Feluda films. This puts him in an inevitable dilemma. Feluda uses internet (he has to be with the times, of course) but for some strange reason does not have the facility at home and has to visit a cybercafe to access internet. Fair enough. But why does he have to go to Sidhu Jyatha, a man of encyclopaedic knowledge, if he can get all the information on the internet?
Feluda has to do a lot of untoward explaining, as a result, but still cannot satisfy the logical mind. Wouldn’t it have been much easier for the director to retain its 1970s setting, returning to Lalmohan Babu his absurd green ambassador rather than have him drive around in a spick and span Santro of the same colour?
‘Gorosthane Sabdhan’ offers some interesting insights into colonial Calcutta – this was well before the city officially came to be known as Kolkata – and comes alive in the portions where it does so. The scenes shot in the Park Street cemetery are also among the more interesting bits. On the strength of these sequences, the latest Feluda film manages to score above another Feluda film by Sandip Ray, ‘Kailashe Kelenkari’, which was an unmitigated disaster.
One last word about Feluda himself. In spite of his age and mature body language, Feluda (Chakraborty) is the best thing about ‘Gorosthane Sabdhan’. We especially loved him in the scene where he stuns a ‘seance’, swoops upon an heirloom being used to summon a dead soul and deftly manoeuvres Topshe and Jatayu to scoot down a rickety staircase, pummelling a man on the way, to the green Santro waiting at the foot of the building.
Bravo, Chakraborty! That was Feluda all right.