Sunday, 19 January 2014

#Jaatishwar ...... The legend of Anthony Firingee.

Bengali cinema is alive and kicking. And I am not speaking about the variety which is a copy of some South Indian blockbuster hurting your sensibilities to the core with the loud dialogue ,overacting, item numbers,crass jokes ,mindless violence or unrealistic action. From the debris of the existential compromises which the Bengali cinema has had to make over the last three decades, some good filmmakers have come ahead. And they are not of the typical intellectual variety.Rather they are good craftsmen who understand the idiom of cinema as an interactive medium. 

Srijit Mukherjee is one of them. One may find fault with his movies in a critical manner over his style of execution but not his ideas and his imagery. From the new breed of the filmmakers who are part of the revival in Bengali movies by attempting to make commercially viable intelligent movies , he has made his name. His choice of subjects has been varied and he has never bothered about the niceties of following the age old formula in his scripts. His latest offering, Jaatishwar is another attempt in this direction. And after the somewhat average Arabian adventure of Mishawr Rahasya, this time he has packed the killer punch in providing a wholesome entertainment without a well defined storyline , actually.

#Jaatishwar is the story which on the face value is a story about a split personality character who is a re incarnation of a historical Indo-Portugese person Anthony Kabial also known as Antony Firingee , who inspite of his European lineage adopted Bengal as his home and Bengali as his language to create folk songs and participate in competitions in the 18th Century , almost 150 years back. But this actually is just the platform of the movie which explores so much other contemporary facets of the Bengali life.

Srijit has shown in his earlier films that he has a keen sense of music and his song picturisations stand out in conceptualisation a nd execution. This time he is firmly on his territory and plays on his strength by tackling the subject of the reincarnation with music at the heart of the film. And that really pays dividend. the songs and their picturisations are the highpoint of this movie. The lyrical finesse of the songs and their rendition are superb. You take the songs with you as you leave the cinema hall.
The simple narrative of the movie actually brings forth a complex collage of events, past and present and brings forth the role of music and its evolution in the Bengali society in the last two centuries. It also is a story of love, lost and found. There is actually two stories that move parallely throughout the movie with a coterminus climax and a twist at the the end. But the suspense of the climax is maintained till the very end and this is the hallmark of a good director. The story itself moves forward and in some places, the director has used a documentary style and tried to follow the reality show type format by roping in famous contemporary music makers . All in all the experiments gel and are not jarring.

The excellent camera and editing helps the movie to move forward in an easy pace. After many days I found a title scene where the audience is compelled to follow the camera. The cast of actors led by Prosenjit have turned out a wonderful performance. His dual role play of an ordinary man with visions of reincarnation has been really good. And as Anthony Firingee , he has been able to overcome the strong association which cine goers have for this character with Uttam kumar. Swastika as the heroine has proved that she deserves better roles . But Jishu Sengupta is outstanding with his under acting . He really deserves more and more meaningful roles . He is the best surprise of the movie.

Movies like #Jaatishwar are to be seen and then criticised. But if you do not watch these movies then you are actually perpetuating the rule of crass commercial cinema bereft of intelligence. One thing is clear. Bollywood with its big budget and overhyped stars can never dream of making such movies. And this is not only for Bengalis . With a very good sub title , everybody can watch the movie . If not for the cultural package but for the technical brilliance and idea . The movie is bound to get a national award . But what it really needs is public support. Go and see Jaatishwar. You will not regret it if you understand Bengali.

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