Kaushik Ganguly, take a bow
Halfway into the film, psychiatrist Dr Swati's professor reflects, "Acoustics is the science of sound and the control of it. Control is the keyword." But control is just for the effects, sound is the only reality, foley artiste Tarak Dutta will tell you. The unsung hero, he recreates realistic ambient sounds — crushing paper to evoke the subtle noise of flickering flames, thumbing through the tooth of a comb to create the sound of a Rubik's cube, or so he imagines... As he strips to the basics, takes a bunch of dry leaves on both hands, shakes them at maddening intensity, he is actually making the flight of a hundred pigeons sound real on celluloid. But Tarak's creativity, unlike that of the birds, doesn't take a flight of fancy. It gets trapped in the world he so meticulously creates.
Since Tarak leads a life less ordinary, his problems are no less intriguing. So, if he is meeting up a friend at a roadside tea shack, he isn't actually talking about being an LIC agent by day or seeing the man smile at life's vicissitudes, his ears only respond to the sound of the liquor falling into the
, the moving wheels of the rickshaw, people walking, the world...
Is that a sign of acoustic neuroma? Is Tarak beginning to respond to the ambient noise more than the words thrown in between? Dr Swati wouldn't have it easy. Tarak wouldn't let it. Failing to discover his own ailment, he makes treatment difficult. Begins the unique journey of a man fighting his own obsession. The scene where Swati communicates with him through the microphone which keeps ambient noise at bay, touches an instant chord. Again, when Tarak's wife, Ratna, in a desperate bid to cure him, leaves for Siliguri, loses him one fine morning only to find him standing in front of a waterfall, listening intently, brings about yet another poignant moment in the film.
From one who would teach his wife there's sound even in uncorking a liquor bottle on a night of intimacy to one who makes an empty cage swaying in the wind stand still, so that it spares the least bit of noise, it's a fight against his own self for Tarak. Ritwick as Tarak, for the most part, dwells in an inner world, embracing inwardness with such vigour that it seems the world doesn't exist. He towers above all and finds able accompaniment in Ratna aka Raima, who stands with him shoulder to shoulder and offers naively to take over Tarak's job as the insurance agent once misfortune falls on the family. Churni as Swati is intense. But her question — 'In this materialistic world, who wants to listen?' — though pertinent, runs the risk of sounding preachy. Kaushik Ganguly as the doc who ends up inspiring Swati, Victor as the I-am-the-best professor and Arun Guhathakuta as Tarak's brooding father who questions in a moment of crisis,
ke cheno naki
?', go beyond their bit roles to breathe life into the film. Wish Srijit Mukherji (sound-recordist-with-a-past Dibyendu) was as effortless in front of the camera as he is behind it.
While Sirsha Ray's camera moves from real to surreal (there are delusions like Ritwik waking up on the seaside to his folio nest on the beach), zooming in and out of objects that make sound, Mainak Bhaumick's editing adds crispness. Despite making the audience oscillate between despair and hope in the second half of the film, there's less drama. The climax, however, catches one totally offguard — it's a short story playing out on the big screen. But in the end, as its protagonist claims,
shows how sound makes a film. '
Dev, Prosenjit, Mithun
ke niye thakle hobe
?' asks Tarak, our unlikely hero. And the answer, as this film meant as a tribute to 100 years of cinema shows, is a big no. Kudos to sound designers Anirban Sengupta and Dipankar Chaki for making the film what it is, sans music, sans background score, relying on foley sound and to what effect! Last but not the least, here's to the man who readies to tell a tale so different, for highlighting a subject so integral to cinema yet so removed from those sitting in the aisles of the theatre, for all sound and no fury. Kaushik Ganguly, take a bow.