Director Ujjal Chatterjee turns this poignant tale into something absolutely ridiculous
When a film is based on a true and politically controversial story, the audience usually keeps an eye out for how accurately the incidents have been depicted. In that hunt, they may overlook the weaknesses of the film itself. Swabhoomi, however, doesn't throw up any such possibilities. The pitfalls of the films are as gaping as the potholes of Sector V in monsoon. However much you try, you can't get around them easily.
The film is based on Mahasweta Devi's novel, Adhoba, which is the story of Shyamali Pramanik, who lost her husband during the violent political unrest in Nandigram. When her husband's body was recovered, two other women also claimed him as their husband. For that reason, Shyamali remained neither a married woman, nor even a widow, but somebody in between — an 'adhoba'.
But director Ujjal Chatterjee turns this poignant tale into something absolutely ridiculous. Debosree Roy, as the protagonist Saraswati, tries very hard to portray the anguish and helplessness of a woman trying to claim her husband's body. But her efforts are wasted as the director fails to establish the story. Too many abrupt cuts, courtesy poor editing; too loud background score and a bunch of actors who look like they can't care less for the film make this film an agonising experience. Except for Debesh as Saraswati's husband and Barun Chanda as the CM, nobody stands out. Jackie Shroff, as an encounter specialist, speaks Bengali with a ridiculous accent and looks tired playing a police officer. Then there are Priyanshu Chatterjee with a deadpan expression and Satabdi Roy, who sports different hairstyles through the film.
Here are some 'ridiculous' moments from the film — while the villagers are getting shot by police for protesting against land acquisition, three musicians suddenly appear and lip-sync, headbang and strum on guitars to a remarkably bad song. Like bad pennies, they turn up in every other scene. The director obviously 'borrowed' this particular element from
There's Something About Mary or Life In A...Metro
, but the adaptation is so poor that you don't know whether to laugh or cry. Secondly, Tapas Pal, who plays a political leader, keeps appearing with and without a moustache in the same time frame! Lastly, if a tacky item number can be forced into a film that deals with a serious issue, it becomes an insensitive parody of the agony that thousands of villagers are going through. And let's not forget the agony of the audience — and your poor reviewer!