August 1, 2011 (Calcutta Tube): System is a 2011 Bengali film directed by Riingo with Indronil Sengupta, Suvra Kundu, Sabyasachi Chakraborty, Barun Chanda and others in the cast. Read the Bengali movie review at Calcutta Tube.
SYSTEM – MIND-BLOWING TECHNIQUE, WEAK STORY
Production: Rose Valley
Story, direction, editing and cinematography: Riingo
Music: Jeet Ganguly
Lyrics: Prosen, Chandrani and Riingo
Cast: Indronil Sengupta, Suvra Kundu, Sabyasachi Chakraborty, Rajesh Sharma, Barun Chanda, Shambhu Chakraborty and Rajesh Roy
Date of release: July 29th, 2011
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[ReviewAZON asin=”B003IPHW9G” display=”inlinepost”]Flamboyance and a highly stylized approach define Riingo’s cinematic language. In System, he takes on the underground in Kolkata. Ekalabya (Indronil Sengupta), a handsome young man willingly becomes a contract killer with the help of an older sympathizer Dilawar (Sabyasachi Chakraborty) under the main don addressed as ‘Da.’ Unlike regular contract killers in umpteen Hollywood films and television serials, he does not have a code name, does not slip in and out of disguises, does not carry several passports and is known by his face and real name both among the police who are hot on his chase and also within rival gangs. Trouble brews when during a shoot-out at a Kolkata pub, he rescues the singer Rani Dutta (Suvra Kundu) from splinters but cannot save her from becoming blind. Rudra (Indrajeet) suspended thrice by the police force for making his own spot decisions, makes it his mission to capture Ekalabya to clean his slate. Ekalabya falls in love with Suvra, breaking yet another golden rule of the contract killer – no emotional ties, no family, no friends and traps himself in a no-exit situation.
Riingo has mastered the camera in a way that it becomes his directorial baton too. Problems ensue when the cinematographer in Riingo almost completely overshadows and overpowers the director in Riingo making System a text-book example in unique technique but making the content confusing and ambivalent. The motive in murder-for-hire plots may vary from case to case, but for the hired hit man it is always business as usual. Not so for Ekalabya, too handsome to fit into the mould of a hired killer, too philanthropic as illustrated from his donating his income anonymously to children in an orphanage and too emotional to fall in love with a pub singer who he meets purely by chance. He also shares a deep friendship with mentor Dilawar and creates a different bonding with Rudra who operates on the opposite side of the fence. So, is this a film about the ‘system’ or is it a film about what a contract killer is really like behind that hard, unsmiling face who needs 30 seconds to zero in on his target and ten to fire the shot?
System exposes viewers to an insider’s view of the business of crime. But the actual story – whatever it might be in the final analysis, gets botched up in sudden flashes of light, silhouetted action sequences, speeding cars rushing across deserted streets and highways, two-wheelers waiting somewhere for the killer to make his escape, a little lame girl watching a chase-and-hunt helplessly, one target turned into a human bomb, punctuated by a sound design that compliments the visual frames shot almost entirely in sepia dotted by too much of random shooting mainly around public places like streets, pubs and bridges. The long shots of the dance number in the pub in colour are beautiful. Close-ups like a glass vase crashing to the floor of Rani’s plush apartment, a medium long shot of Dilawar playing on the violin on the stage of an empty theatre – a hide-out, are moving. But none of these contribute to the story. The same applies to the two dream song sequences shot with the lovers that look bizarre within the somber ambience of the film. The lyrics of one song are strongly ‘inspired’ by the famous Mohiner Ghodaguli number. The final frames of Rudro standing in one corner of the frame silhouetted against a sunset and the burning pyre in the other corner with the narrator’s voice rounding up the unfinished story writes a fitting finish to a technically brilliant film that goes weak in the knees when it comes to story-telling.
Indranil is handicapped by his smashing good looks that earn him the sobriquet ‘Rock Star’ from Rudro. Indrajeet is very good as Rudro expressing the varying shades of the character lucidly. Sabyasachi is mind-blowing as Dilawar. Barun Chanda’s English accented Bengali sounds terrible. Rajesh Sharma is too predictable. Suvra is too stiff and camera-conscious partly justified by her blindness.
If interpreted as a film about the mindsets of people involved in the two ‘systems’ that operate on two sides of the legal fence, one for and the other against, System is a well executed film. But if one wants to read it as an informative and enlightening story on the two ‘systems’ it repeatedly talks about, it does not make for a cohesive story after the initial voice-over that describes the terminology that operates among the Kolkata mafia.
P.S. – SYSTEM is a plagiarisation of a John Woo film THE KILLER (1989.) THE KILLER is a violent Hong Kong action film, this is the story of an assassin, Jeffrey Chow (aka Mickey Mouse) who takes one last job so he can retire and care for his girlfriend Jenny. When his employers betray him, he reluctantly joins forces with Inspector Lee (aka Dumbo), the cop who is pursuing him. Together, the new friends face the final confrontation of the gangsters out to kill them.