Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Shobdo (Sound) : Review of a film by Kaushik Ganguly

Shobdo (meaning sound) is the story of Tarak , a  foley artist (he/she is somebody who recreates sound in a film by producing sound effects )  whose obsession with his craft takes his hearing  to a different sphere of auditory reception whereby he kind of becomes over-sensitive to every sound in his ambient. This obsession  disturb his relationships, whether in work or home. The story of Shobdo is not only about the dramatic journey  of Tarak through clinical observation, diagnosis, rehabilitation and recovery but also a miniature documentary on the art of creation of sound effects. Flapping wings of a flock of pigeons, that's  flying away, is reproduced by fast-flapping a bunch of dried leaves in both hands or  the sound of a closed door being slammed open is re-created by banging two wooden boxes. In the process the viewer's ears are over-sensitised to the sound track of the film itself. And in a clever move, Kaushik Ganguly -the Director of Shobdo- has completely done away with any background  musical score. Suddenly for the first time, one feels the power of audio in a audio-visual presentation. For a while the film empathetically revolves around the way Tarak hears the ambient sound be it the deafening roar of a water-fall or the sharp slice of a plant-scissor or the crunching  of dry food in one's mouth; the viewer is given amplified doses of what Tarak would actually hear.
The duo of Anirban Sengupta/Dipankar Chaki had done a good job in their earlier movie 'Laptop' but they do a superb work here. Sirsha Ray in camera is splendid. Some classic shots like the complete movement of  an old  lift in one frame and then that of two people sleeping in births inside a train compartment are worth remembering. But the best that I liked (audio-visually that is) was the soft-chiming of hanging metals in a moon-lit garden atop a hill.
The performances by actors were relaxed and good; coming as they are from a star-cast. Victor Bannerjee, Srijit Mukherjee, Raima Sen were optimally restrained for the roles they were playing while Ritwik Chatterjee as Tarak was under the skin of the character  right from the start. It would also be a dis-service,  if mention is not made of Churni Ganguly, whose  excellent performance in her trademark-husky voice appeared  to be straight from the heart and fortunately appropriate for Shobdo. Overall. Shobdo is a movie to be enjoyed more with one's ears than eyes specially in a hall with good crispy acoustics. Kaushik Ganguly's   inability to dramatize a story hasn't had a substantial influence on the film  since all other elements appear to have fallen in the right place for Shobdo, which incidentally also won the national award for the best Bengali film in 2012.
JAS Rating: 7  out of 10

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