Ashimava Bose (Sabyasachi Chakrabarty) is an Indo-Anglian sci-fi writer who teaches at Oxford. He visits Kolkata to launch the Bengali translation of his book when mystery thickens around him
Whodunnit? Howdunnit? Whydunnit? But most importantly, wowdunnit! The film that appears to be just a potboiler mystery in its trailer explodes into an intriguing family drama garnished with a gentle amount of political seasoning as it unfolds on screen. With Anik Dutta’s characteristic witticism (a poster of Groucho Marx with Marxism written on it), daring jibes at the current regime (the alliteration of mati is hilarious) and replete with literary references, Meghnadbodh Rohoshyo is smart and wholesome entertainment.
The film opens with a search-and-chase sequence where British police find a freedom fighter, Arindam (Sridip) in a dilapidated mansion and shoot him dead. In a heart-wrenchingly beautiful shot, the freedom fighter stretches his arms and falls in the river creating a silver spider web on the water surface. We step into the current era where thespian Goutam Halder performs Madhusudan Dutta’s modern epic Meghnadbadh Kabya on stage, theatrically emphasising on “Mari ori, pari je koushole (I’ll kill enemy by any means),” — an important line of the play.
Ashimava Bose (Sabyasachi Chakrabarty) is an Indo-Anglian sci-fi writer who also teaches at Oxford. He visits Kolkata to launch the Bengali translation of his book, Big Bong Theory, that has been translated by Elina Roy (Saayoni Ghosh). Asimava, also called Asimov Bose in jest by his friends, is married to Indrani (Gargee RoyChowdhury) — a National Award-winning actress. In Kolkata, the film weaves in many other characters including Kunal (filmmaker and Indrani’s friend, played by Abir Chatterjee) in the couple’s life. It was almost by the end of the first half when the mystery thickens but by then the director successfully establishes that the movie is much beyond the suspense.
With Salil Choudhury warping in the background, Meghnadbadh Rohoshyois a well-made movie by any definition and once again, through his outstanding use of Meghnadbodh Kabya, it is established that Anik believes in classics. One may consider it a curious coincidence that Anik has staged his comeback after four years with a film that takes us back to the Naxal strife of the ’70s on the 50th anniversary of the Naxalbari movement. The film that opens with a political murder tends to turn into an abduction mystery and finally becomes a story of camaraderie, faith and betrayal. The culminating song, sung by Nikhita Gandhi, pays homage to Moushumi Bhowmick’s classic Ekhono swapno dekho and is a path-breaking effort in the popular music genre.
Gargee delivers the poised and understated emotions of a stiff upper-lip Indrani with flair. The actresses’ inherent gravity works wonders. Abir, by now, has established himself as the official sleuth in Tollywood and hence fits perfectly into Kunal’s shoes. Sabyasachi gets under the skin of the vulnerable Asimava, the firebrand student leader-turned-sci-fi writer living abroad and penning impossible stories about the life he wanted to live.
There are one or two smudges in the film too. A, the film is a tad too long and B, it suffers from too many leads — some of them steer us nowhere.
However, Meghnadbodh Rohoshyo is a film to be watched. It caters to all. Despite having a political backdrop, the film shall enthral the uninitiated and non-committed by its powerful human drama. And for the layman, it is an absorbing film.
PS: Kudos to the censor board. The unspoken word in the film has made the sarcasm more poignant than it was intended.