Story: After his adventures in Africa, Shankar (Dev) travels to South America to encounter many beasts and the mythical city of El Dorado
The big Bong film is here. Our very own, home-grown globetrotter Shankar (Dev) is back in action with yet another big-budget adventure flick, Amazon Obhijaan (AO). This time, ‘ojparaganyer chhele’, Shankar, is more experienced after knocking down his nemesis, the deadly Bunip, in his first ever adventure. His second outing is a blend of good, bad and ugly elements that somehow manage to constitute an adventure film. While it doesn’t fail to please the audience with some brilliant landscapes and thrilling chase sequences, hideous CGI and loud, melodramatic acting prevent the film from becoming a magnum opus.
Shankar now teaches at an open school in his small village. An Italian anthropologist Anna Floriana (Svetlana Gulakova) seeks his help to bring his alcoholic father Marco (David James) back to what he used to love doing: journeying through South America to find El Dorado — the city of gold. The trio then finally embarks on a journey through the hills, mountains and archipelago of the Amazon rainforest and their adventure begins. From creepy-crawlies to panthers to anaconda and tarantula — the three face all sorts of deadly dangers in their expedition.
Now let us come to the good bits of the film. The first high is its title card. The journey of Shankar and Anna to meet her father is amazingly depicted through paintings. Then there are spellbinding landscapes and some amazing shots that set a new benchmark in Bengali movies. Though the voiceover sounds like a lecture in an eco-geo class, it is a work of rock-solid research. Yes, it goes overboard with information, but it still talks about the places that are unknown to many of us. The story is commonplace but the storytelling touches brilliance.
And there are bad bits too. The film is too long to start with. Then the CGI of panthers and anacondas look shoddy, like the stuff seen on some Indian mythological TV serials. The acting department suffers a good deal. Dev as Shankar appears to be expressionless. When Shankar isn’t fighting, he is smiling and that smile hangs on screen for really, really long. While David James as Marco shows some sparks, he too fails to impress in the long run because of his theatrics. There is absolutely no reason for Anna to speak in Bengali. Good subtitles could have salvaged the ridiculous bits where she speaks in Bengali. “Phapar piano shunthey shunthey Ami ghumatam,” says Anna and someone from the audience screams, ‘membou’. Also, there are inconsistencies. Despite fighting with the many dangers, the explorers’ shirts remained crisp and white till the time the director suddenly remembers that it’s too late and in the last lap of their journey, we see their clothes have finally got some dust on them.
And now comes the ugly bit: Shankar’s revenge on the anaconda. The explorer who thinks twice before shooting a panther and tries to escape without harming it (but fails and kills it anyway) decides to take revenge against the animal that has killed his friend. In a grotesque and sly plan, Shankar offers the anaconda a slow death. It's painful to see the spikes piercing through the body of the giant reptile that kills human only when it feels threatened. Wildlife conservation? Go to hell!
But despite all this, one must watch the film. Not only because of its grandeur but also to savour Kamaleswar’s imagination. The mythic city of El Dorado is pretty much the same as we had imagined in childhood. And finally, the film ends where it all began — with a reference to Reader’s Digest, the book that opened up the idea of Shankar’s first adventure, Chander Pahar, many years ago.