Thursday, October 31, 2013

Mishor Rohoshyo (Mystery in Egypt) : review of a film by Srijit Mukherjee

Having missed all the blockbuster films directed  by Srijit Mukherjee before Mishor Rohoshyo; I was  carrying  a huge baggage of guilt as well as plenty of high expectations when I walked into the theater today afternoon to watch Mishor Rohoshyo. When the salesgirl at the ticket counter  informed me that the movie was for 3 hours , I was a trifle anxious. Although I'm not averse to watching movies for a longer duration but what kept me wondering was whether the movie will be gripping enough.

Three hours later when I emerged from the hall, I wasn't sure whom to hail. The late writer of this adventure-thriller, Sunil Ganguly, to whom this movie was dedicated exactly a year after his untimely death or hail Srijit , the director who skillfully adapted the old story to modern times  or even  the poet Srijato , the lyricist , the composer  Indraadip & singers Sonu Nigam & Arijit Singh for producing classic tunes (Aaro ekti dur & Dilli being my favourites ) that seamlessly travelled with the story-line. Of course National award winner (for Shobdo) sound-designers  Diapnkar Chaki & Anirban Sengupta again create magical audio.

The only Kakababu movie  I remember seeing was Tapan Sinha's "Sabuj Dwiper Raja" which had starred Samit Bhanja as Kakababu, the crutch-wielding avuncular scholar-cum-adventurer, taking the bad guys in the serene settings of Andaman Islands. That was so long ago. Kakababu was a fictional character of my teenage time as popular as Satyajit Ray's private investigator Feluda although films made with Feluda were more in number.   But while I can never place Sabyasachi in the same pedestal as Soumitra who originally played the role of Feluda in Ray's Sonar Kella; I think Prosenjit Chatterji is a much better replacement for the late Samit Bhanja in the role of Kakababu primarily for Prosenjit's  superior histrionic abilities and as well as for his killer looks and sensitive eyes.

Images of Ray's Sonar Kella cropped up many times during this movie since like Mishor Rohoshyo that too was set in the desert, of Jaislmeer. Srijit's benevolent producer has taken him to Sahara desert for this movie and Srijit showed no miserliness in depicting the beauty of the desert with  its undulating dunes, camel rides, a  dust storm and even a full-moon night. It seemed to me as if Srijit was somewhere trying to recreate the magic of Sonar Kella and even trying to better it . Just as there was a Rajasthani tune played in Sonar Kella at night-time, so was here an Egyptian tune played in the moonlit expanse of the desert at the hideout of Hani Alkadi, the poet-cum-revolutionary who knows 14 languages ( including Bengali, of course :-)), a character that was played brilliantly by Indranil Sengupta. And finally just as Ray had then introduced the perfect 6 year old , Kushal Chakrabarty,  to play Mukul in Sonar Kella , here too Srijit introduces Aryann Bhowmik to play Sontu, Kakababu's smart teenage assistant.

This is an adventure thriller so I won't spend much time on the plot except for saying that this is about decoding a hitherto un-decoded hieroglyphic message of a Egyptian Fakir ; over which Hani Alkadi & Al Mamun (played by the gifted actor Rajit Kapur) have set their eyes in the hope of discovering a trail of treasure. Kakababu , sitting in Kolkata, comes to the picture since he is, of course,  the only one who can decode the Fakir's messages unlike any other Egyptologist.

I'd instead talk about Srijit , a modern-day director who not only writes a fantastic screenplay but also  has the supreme ability to  dramatize it smartly &  beautifully on the big screen. Although he leaves the music, lyrics, sound , editing, cinematography to other people gifted as they are in their own  rights; Srijit  is able to brief & manage them to the extent that their efforts mesh seamlessly with his  in producing a gripping movie. If there is any successor to the Oscar awardee Satyajit Ray , I think its only Srijit Mukherjee who has the potential among present day Bengali directors to take that place and possibly even to surpass him one day.

I'm glad I didn't miss  Mishor Rohoshyo ( Srijit's fourth direction)  this time and I don't think you should too.

JAS rating : 9 out of 10             

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