Director: Arindam Mamdo Dey
Producer: Pankaj Agarwal & PB Films
Story, screenplay and dialogue: Arijit Biswas
Cast: Soumitra Chatterjee, Koushik Ganguly, Parambrato Chatterjee,
Raima Sen, Paoli Dam, Debdoot Ghosh, Prasun Gain and others
By Shoma A. Chatterji
Chhayamanush – The Pact is Arindam Dey’s third film. One does not know whether to place it within magic realism, or call it a psychological thriller or read it as a blend of these two. Rahul (Parambrata Chatterjee) is a famous writer suffering from a severe writer’s block. But he has taken an advance of `Rs.5 lakh from his publisher Baidyanath Agarwal (Soumitra Chatterjee) who is pressurising him to return the money. A chance encounter with an old friend (Debdoot) brings him in contact with a mysterious character with a strange name— Pranotosh Dayal Dinobondhu (Kaushik Ganguly) who promises that he can make every dream of Rahul come true. He backs this up with instant proof of his ability to read through the invisible crystal ball. But there is a catch— he must sign a pact that lays down conditions one could easily forget. With his back to the wall, against his wizened friend’s advice, Rahul signs the pact. The friend suffering from terminal cancer, jumps off the terrace and kills himself.
According to the pact, Dinobondhu packs him off to the tea gardens of North Bengal initiated by the publisher releasing a chain of unanswered questions that leaves Rahul in deep conflict. The end finds him about to be arrested for suspected involvement in his bride (Raima Sen)’s disappearance. His girlfriend Trisha (Paoli Dam) falls off a speeding train but does not die. The police officer unfolds layers of the mystery or mysteries and all is well in Rahul and Trisha’s world.
The technical finesse the film achieves is fascinating. This includes the brilliant performances by the cast, barring Soumitra Chatterjee who looks and acts with distinct discomfort trying to step into the shoes of the Marwari businessman who speaks impeccable Bengali. Kaushik Ganguly is outstanding as Dinobondhu and the others give him solid support. For a few shots, the film borders on a horror flick when Trisha is in the train going to North Bengal. There is an unexplained mystery of a little girl who wanders in the forests, alone. But this is not the only mystery.
The low-key music with melodious songs on the soundtrack enriches the visuals instead of hampering them. Parambrato has done the playback and has done a wonderful job of it. Shirsa Ray’s cinematography vacillates across time and space with imaginative play of toned-down colours— blue and green in the tea plantations, brown, amber and grey in the city, which invests the visuals with a rich look. The editing is a bit confusing but it is the fault of the puzzling script with too many red herrings scattered towards the hurried climax and not the editor’s fault.
Chhayamanush The Pact is a well-structured film that begins very well but when the script tries to answer the intriguing questions of what happened, why and by who, it fails to deliver. However, the film has established Dey as a competent film-maker with a knack for tackling mystery. The emphasis on motion—speeding trains, speeding cars, alternating with the stillness and the scary silence in the woods could have been wonderful had the resolutions been convincing and credible.
Fandry (Marathi)/ Meaningful cinema
Direction and Screenplay : Nagraj Manjule
Music : Alokananda Dasgupta
Cast : Nagraj Manjule, Chhaya Kadam, Jyoti Subhash, Kishore Kadam
By Sunil Nandgoankar
Shwaas changed the entire scenario, for good, for Marathi cinema with its unique and touching subject. Similarly, the same can be said about the latest Marathi film Fandry after watching it. The film is based on a simple love story, that of a teenage boy from Dalit caste while touching the topic of caste-based society in rural Maharashtra.
Jabya, a teenage boy, falls in love with his classmate Shali who belongs to the upper caste. Hailing from a lower caste, Jabya doesn’t dare to express his love to Shali and his love remains lopsided. So he writes a letter but never gives it to her. Jabya’s father, Kachru Mane and his family live on the outskirts of the village Akolner. Kachru is a mere labourer who kills wild pigs for a living. Fandry means a wild pig. Kachru is summoned to kill wild pigs or rescue them because of a prevalent belief that touching a pig is not good. This belief strengthens the obnoxious caste system and prevents Jabya from expressing his love.
Through this, director Nagraj Manjule depicts the myths and faiths of the society. Being a low caste person, Kachru Mane always falls prey to the upper caste villagers and this hurts Jabya. The entire story is narrated through Jabya’s views and perceptions. The film ends on a sharp, harsh note leaving the audience stunned. The director successfully brings out a strong message making one realise how our society functions.
In his directorial debut, Nagraj Manjule shows many ironic situations. Caste discrimination is shown in a very simple but sharp and subtle way. Excellent camera work by Vikram Amladi and symbolically explaining of the film plot has been done brilliantly by the director.
The film is a visual treat. Excellent camera work, and shot on real locations, gives an authentic touch to the story. Background music and editing are excellent. Great work done by Kishore Kadam as Kachru Mane. Somnath Avaghade as Jabya has performed brilliantly. Suraj, who plays Piraji, Jabya’s friend has done an excellent job.