Yesterday was our marriage anniversary. My wife and myself decided to see the first show of Shahjahan Regency at Inox South City. This already shows our faith and positive bias towards Srijit Mukherjee. I have known Srijit through occasional hi-hellos in social circles. Never had a chance to talk to him properly. Largely because I was a visitor in this world of cinema being a sports journalist and then running a PR and branding firm that had never worked with him. And also somewhat due to my reticent nature.
Coming back to Shahjahan Regency, which I will refer to as SJ, for the rest of this account. We got two seats from the aisle, while the other two on that row had an apparently mature couple quietly perched.
The movie began with a montage of Parambrata and an effusive monologue on Calcutta to Kolkata. The man seated next to me got excited seeing the drone shot move away from the Science City connector and said “bujhecho kothai eta. Oi je bhelpurir dokan gulo laage…” I stole a glance and went back to concentrating as by then an ultra natural Rudranil had taken over guiding Param, who looked at ease slipping into the skin of a middle class man with middle class moralities, through the queer bents of life leading him to a completely new solar system Shahjahan Regency.
As the film travelled from the crowded Gariahat and Bella Bose cabin to the soft speaking posh locales of SJ the noise drowned in the melodious music that came out of string instrument that Rituparna Sengupta was playing. Five scenes and she looked gorgeous in her un-ubiquitous presence. Poise grace and style dripped from every drop of music that flowed through her acting. Meanwhile, the man next to me got excited: ” Gotobaar pujor udbodhon to Ritu di korlo amader okhane. Janle boltam ekbaar sitar ta bajate. Amar barite ache na. Chotka sekhe…” I knew I was in trouble.
By then Abir Chatterjee had been introduced. I lost the initial intercation as he was still explaining why that year the puja committee was way better than other years. By then Param was in SJ pantry and he was asked if he had food allergy. The man said : ” Amar musurir dal aar chana te ache…” I looked at him sternly once. Even in the dark he must have seen my eyes glow as he quickly found shelter in his love’s arms crooning “coffee ta diye gelona dekhle…”
Dolon pulled me and said “Matha gorom Koro na…”
So coming back, Anjan da as the quintessential Bengali hotel owner was extremly close to portraying perfectly the mannerisms and style of another Sarkar I had come to know through my journalism days. He was all silk and satin in expressions and his wallowing self-destruction. Well played sir.
Now a little bit about Swag and Sexiness of movie. Abir was all swagger. If after Uttam Kumar someone’s smile has that effect it is Abir’s. Right from being a mentor to Param to being his friend and confidant to seeking solace as a broken man in his friend’s cove…he was emaculate. Param meanwhile grew slowly like wild orchid blooming with the arrival of winter’s day.
Love bloomed with the arrival of Anirban. As the young Scion to the dynasty of Sarkars, he fitted like a bolt. He and Swastika set the screen on fire, with unspoken words, unabashed looks, craving bodies and finality of fate. I still feel Swastika is head and heels above the others when it comes to portraying the lovelorn rebellious woman be it here or Asamapta or any other movie.
There is this poignant scene when they sit quietly by the poolside. I was watching intently and then thunder struck…” Eta budge budge bujhle… Erokom nodi ache ekta picnic er barir pashe.” I felt like drowning him in that same water.
Mamata Shankar showed her pedigree in the two scenes where she is the aging mistress and the dotting mother opposed to Swastika’s last hope of having a good life. They were like two behemoths fighting for screen space. I was completely sucked into the movie with later Swastika telling Param… “Tumio Amar hathta chere dile…” And the suicide next scene. “Amader barasat er Saha textile e erokom benarasi arr Paramder Panjabi pawa Jai… Tomai niye jaabo,” the man said. I turned around and said: ” Baki golpota plz barasat e giye korben…”
To be able to enjoy a movie sitting besides such a commentary on life and other things… Speaks volumes about the film. I need to mention nitty-gritty, my dear friend Sujoy, who was excellent in his part and Kanchan separately for their portrayals. The film was bubble wrapped in a world of pain that was to slowly erode away and a new world would take over. You could feel their lives touching yours. That is perhaps the success of the movie.
As the movie got over he tried to smile sheepishly at me that I did not encourage as I walked out… trying to hold on to the various poignant moments in the movie as they flickered about in the chiaroscuro of my mental makeup.
I have not mentioned Chowringhee or Manishankar babu because this film needs to be seen not in comparison but as a standalone. And it stands alone. Thanks. Despite the noise besides me for which I can hardly hold Srijit responsible.