GOROSTHANE SHABDHAN (2010) Bengali Film Review: Feluda coming to USA

December 28, 2010, Kolkata/Tollywood (Calcutta Tube): GOROSTHANE SHABDHAN is a 2011 Bengali Detective/Thriller Film directed by Sandip Ray starring Sabyasachi Chakraborty as Famous detective FELUDA created by Satyajit Ray. Databazaar Media Ventures (DMV) is releasing the film in the USA in January 2011. For the first time, the two biggest Bengali detectives are coming to North America – Bomkesh and Feluda – both distributed by DMV. Enjoy the complete movie review of GOROSTHANE SABDHAN at Calcutta Tube.

Gorosthane Sabdhan -Bengali Film Review
Gorosthane Sabdhan -Bengali Film Review

Cast and Crew:

  • Produced by: Mou Roychoudhury
  • Presented by: Medico Superspeciality Hospital
  • Story: Satyajit Ray
  • Music, screenplay and direction: Sandip Ray
  • Cast: Haradhan Banerjee, Sabyasachi Chakraborty, Dhritiman Chatterjee, Pradip Mukherjee, Tinnu Anand, Tamal Roychoudhury, Subhashish Mukherjee, Bibhu Chakraborty, Shaheb Bhattacharya
  • Date of release: December 10, 2010
  • Rating: 7/10

GOROSTHANE SABDHAN BENGALI FILM REVIEW by Shoma A. Chatterji

Sandip Ray’s new Feluda film is ‘new’ in more ways than that it is a new film. It is the first Feluda story that remains confined within the city of Kolkata. Relocated from its  time setting to a contemporary context, it goes back again and again into past glimpses of a city that zeroes in on the huge graveyard of Park Street in general and the grave of one Thomas Godwin in particular that forms the core of the story. Feluda’s investigation into the mystery of the sudden digging up of Godwin’s grave is dictated by his own curiosity and not based on a commissioned job. Last but never the least, Gorosthane Sabdhan is not a thriller at all. Nor is it an action adventure. It blends some thrills, a bit of suspense and doses of action and adventure to take the audience on an entertaining trip through the city of Kolkata.

Satyajit Ray wrote this Feluda novel in 1977. Gorosthane Shabdhan is contemporarised to the present day without losing out on Ray’s basic story. Feluda (Prodosh Mitter), Ray’s Sherlock Holmes (Sabyasachi Chakraborty), his Watson Topshe (Shaheb Bhattacharya) and the popular mystery writer Lalmohan Ganguly (Bibhu Bhattacharya) follow  a news story on television to arrive beside the grave of Thomas Godwin that was being dug up by miscreants and injured an ‘intruder’ in the process. Feluda decides to find out who vandalized the grave and why.  This leads to the unfolding of one mystery after another, opening up a Pandora’s Box of family secrets – Thomas Godwin’s daughter’s diaries hidden in an ivory casket gifted to his descendant Marquis Godwin (Tinnu Anand); a slight switch in the initials of one Naren Biswas (Pradip Mukherjee) on his business card; a yellowed photograph of a batch of Presidency College alumni; a jade-studded snuff box; a dilapidated building on Ripon Street; the tomb of Job Charnock with the writing inscribed in Latin; the lavishly mounted, red-carpeted apartment of the shady clock collector Mahadev Choudhuri (Dhritiman Chatterjee) where 250 antique clocks chime together on the dot of six; old sketches of Lucknow and of the Nawab of Lucknow who was Godwin’s benefactor; an old Black-and-White portrait of Godwin’s great-great-grand-daughter who married a Hindu converted to Christianity and some more.

Gorosthane Sabdhan - Feluda Film
Gorosthane Sabdhan - Feluda Film

If one tries to read the film as an action-packed thriller, one will be disappointed. But if one reads the film as a window opening up a world encompassing the city of old and new seen through the acute eyes and powers of observation of the sharp, arrogant, caustic and sophisticated Feluda, then the film turns into enjoyable infotainment presented in small slices of life, characters, relationships and incidents, incidentally through events past and present, through people – good and bad, failures and successes, through small objects and big pictures and places rarely visited like the Park Street cemetery that holds the graves and obelisks of 2000 Englishmen and Anglo-Indians but that has not buried a dead body for many years.

Sabyasachi Chakraborty lives the character of Feluda as if he was born to play it in film after film, investing it with just the right dose of sophistication it demands, and with less arrogance than he is famous for. But he looks too aged to have a teenage looking cousin in the new Topshe (Shaheb Bhattacharya) who looks too wet behind the ears for the character. The visibly ageing Feluda’s fights with Mahadeb’s much younger and stronger henchmen are therefore, quite unconvincing. Bibhu Chakraborty as Lalmohan is as natural and amusing as ever, touched with admiration for his icon Feluda transcending to emotional attachment underwritten beautifully in the scene where he gifts his heirloom pocket watch, a West End made handed down from an ancestor to Feluda. For once, we get to see an emotionally touched Feluda trying to touch the older man’s feet.

The cameo characters are fleshed out very well in a colourful array of men with their idiosyncrasies distanced from what is commonly seen. Every actor reaches beyond the brief footage with his performance. Be it Tinnu Anand as the gout-stricken, straight-talking Marquis Godwin, or, Tamal Roychoudhury as his planchette-obsessed, light-fingered brother Araquis Godwin, Haradhan Banerjee as Feluda’s uncle Sidhu Jyatha, Pradip Mukherhjee as the low-profile, hiding-skeletons-in-the-family-cupboard Naren Biswas, Subhashish Mukherjee as his diabolic, many-faced younger brother William Girin Biswas and last but not the least, Dhritiman Chatterjee as the theatrical, villainous, conceited, snobbish and flamboyant show-off Mahadeb Choudhury, every single performer portrays very atypical characters with great finesse adding to the X-factor of this unusual film. The dialogues are pithy, full of wit and dry humour, alternating between caustic exchanges between Feluda and Mahadeb.

The cinematography, editing and sound design are aesthetic, natural and seamless. One must point out the unique manner of presenting the credit titles that come up in the beginning of the film as letters inscribed on grave stones in the graveyard, the camera panning around in circles to begin on a note of intrigue and mystery. The cinematography in the middle of the night in the graveyard matches the ambient sound design filled with eerie, nocturnal hooting of owls, croaking of frogs, the whining of dogs and the twittering of night birds to add to the sinister atmosphere in the graveyard.  The editing closes the film on a lyrical note in a medium long-shot capturing Feluda and Topshe from the back in semi-silhouette seated on a bench along the banks near Raichak after the dramatic climax.  Sandip Ray’s music is kept to the minimum, mainly drawing from the ambience of the shifting place settings. He allows is father’s Feluda theme to run the show. Like all Feluda films, be it the father or the son, Gorosthane Sabdhaan is heading towards becoming a thumping hit.

Gorosthane Sabdhan is more of an educative entertainment where the audience gets glimpses into Kolkata when it was Calcutta, spanning the city’s colonial past, flashing forward to the present filled with STD booths, bookstores, restaurants, internet cafes, cell phones existing alongside the city’s oldest photographic studio Bourne & Shepherd that can still deliver old portraits of people who have long gone yonder on demand, a manically obsessed watch collector, building up a collage of life in one of the most historical cities of the world.

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