Banner: Guiding Star Films
Story, Direction and Screenplay: Raj Basu
Cast: Rituparna Sengupta, Roopa Ganguly, Sabyasachi Chakraborty, Koushik Sen
By Shoma A. Chatterji
Piyalir Password is the first Bengali feature film to have been shot entirely in Maryland. USA. It was directed by a young and very ambitious NRI, Raj Basu who sadly passed away soon after the film was completed in 2008-9. This stalled the Indian release of the film for five to six years. But the story, authored by Basu himself, a self-confessed fan of Alfred Hitchcock, does not look dated. It is a murder mystery set on a slightly cerebral plane dealing with malpractice in clinical research in a laboratory in Maryland.
Piyali (Roopa Ganguly) and Rupali (Rituparna Sengupta) are sisters. Piyali is a clinical scientist employed in a US research firm researching medicine. She is separated from an abusive husband and lives with a young daughter.
When Piyali dies suddenly in what is termed as an ‘accident’, Rupali flies down from Kolkata to find out what happened.
It is learnt that Piyali has been murdered by her employers and her Japanese partner commits suicide because the two had threatened to expose the firm of not calling back a medicine for diabetes even after they found that every patient administered the drug suffered from cancer of
the pancreas. It may seem a bit too complicated for the lay person.
In her investigation to find out who killed her sister, Rupali takes the help of a friend (Kaushik Sen) of her sister’s estranged husband and another man (Sabyasachi Chakraborty) who is aware of why Piyali was killed. In the bargain he is also killed and the search almost comes to a dead end. The key to the entire mystery is hidden in some password-protected files Piyali had backed up her findings but no one knows the password. Eventually , the entire mystery is resolved, the culprits are caught. Piyali’s daughter is sent to her father and Rupali returns to India though there is mutual attraction between Sen and her.
Basu has not for a minute, tried to celebrate on resident Americans, Blacks included. The actors have performed very well and the best part is that Raj Basu has taken great care to give the three major characters a complete makeover and they look very fresh. The little girl who plays Piyali’s
daughter has done an excellent job. Bickram Ghosh’s musical score and Swagata Lakshmi Dasgupta’s Tagore song on the soundtrack adds to the ambience of mystery to the film. Some patchwork is evident in the editing of visuals and sound specially when the soundtrack goes silent in the outdoor shots later but that is probably because Raj Basu was not alive to look at the final print. The cinematography fits the bill.
From the average stuff of mystery one encounters in contemporary Bengali cinema, one must say that Piyalir Password marks a positive exception.