At a local thana, Vikram slips into a chair, his wrists in handcuffs, fear gripping his muted voice. He is being accused by his tenant of abusing her in a drunken state, throwing her out of the house in the dead of the night. But is truth just about what meets the eye?
Knock, knock. Is there anybody there? In comes the effervescent Tiyasha (Rituparna), with a teddy as her companion. This after Vikram (Rajdeep) and his beautiful wife, Rimi (Arunima), have almost given up hope of finding a tenant. The young couple has moved from their 700 sq ft flat to a sprawling north Kolkata home Rimi has suddenly inherited. They've spent a fortune on renovations and Tiyasha seems like a godsend — almost.
An NGO worker, Tiyasha fits in with the family, like she says midway into the film, 'Bharaate doesn't sound good'. It really doesn't, a fortune-teller would have said. But that's another story. For now, the chirpy girl, who falls easily in love with humans, animals and even trees and houses, is a constant companion of the two. But the bond that the two girls strike up soon becomes too close for comfort.
Debutant director Anindya Ghosh paints a world that's not too unfamiliar to cineastes. Its dark dungeons were explored on the Bengali screen long back in
Ek Je Aachhe Kanya
(2001), which too bore uncanny resemblances to the 1993 Hollywood psychological thriller
. A year before, in 1992, Rebecca De Mornay did in
The Hand that Rocks the Cradle
what was later honed to perfection by the then debutante Konkona Sen Sharma in
Ek Je Aachhe Kanya
— creating a rift between a blameless couple.
Anindya's film, however, is not without occasional flourishes. Its biggest advantage being its running time. In 93 minutes, the director tells his story sans too many complications marring the drama, which borders on film noir. But they say, there are two sides to the coin. Dearth of complications makes the characters fall flat. Though the director doesn't create an emotional juggernaut (thank God for that) by having a back story for a character surely not normal, the latter loses meat in absence of situational complications. On screen, Arunima Ghosh shines as Rimi. She's effortless as a loving wife, who fears losing her man. Rajdeep Gupta, as Vikram, is innocuous, often bland. Rituparna Sengupta, who breaks away from the out-and-out commercial mode with Tiyasha in a tight multiplex movie, lives up to her role and is scary where she twitches her facial muscles as sweat drips down her forehead, never for once blinking her dead-fish eyes.
Anindya, no alien to television, has borrowed some of his frames from the small screen. The cinematic experience is never larger than life, much like Rimi's ancestral house, which remains just an address, a dot in the ocean of high-brow arrogant Bangaliana called north Kolkata. But coupled with hummable tracks by Dolaan-Mainnakk and crisp editing by Sujay Dutta Ray, he turns
maker Sujoy Ghosh's concept into a simplistic narrative that picks up pace in the second half. There's no graphic violence and Anindya doesn't follow the thriller idiom to the letter, refraining from making a comment on our decadent society. But fear's still palpable. Can you rule out paranoia when there's a knock on the door, a ragged teddy pops up in your face with a voice trailing behind? Did you say you heard, 'Is there anybody there?'