By Shoma A. Chatterji
Bheetu in Bengali means ‘coward’ or ‘timid’ in English. It is a derogatory adjective that gets attached to people who are cowed down by fears of all kinds, tangible and intangible which blocks their lives and relationships and places them in psychological depression. Bheetu is the title of Utsav Mukherjee’s under-production film. After his debut Half-Serious, a comic satire that did not do well either critically or at the box office, he decided to work in reverse for his second film.
Bheetu is about two sisters. While Rohini is a very fearful young woman especially since she was crippled in an accident and is strapped to a wheelchair, Sohini, unable to rid herself of a childhood trauma of sexual abuse, leads a wayward, permissible life and hates her elder sister for not rescuing her from her abusive uncle when she was a small girl. Each one struggles with psychological issues of her own worsened by extraneous people who enter their lives over time. Will Rohini strip herself of her cowardice and rescue her sister this time?
“My first film combined surreal satire married to entertaining comedy but it did not compare with films like Anik Dutta’s Bhooter Bhabisyat or the more recent Bari Taar Bangla by Rangan Chakraborty. I wanted to try a new kind of cinema that would tackle a relationship issue narrated as a psychological thriller on a shoestring budget. I needed to fall back on an alternative that would bring back the money invested. So, we worked backwards, fixing the budget and then creating the content to fit into the budget,” says Mukherjee.
Talented actress Sudipta Chakraborty, who won the National Award for Best Supporting Actress for Rituparno Ghosh’s Bariwalli, has portrayed Rohini, while the sensual and dusky beauty Parno Mitra is Sohini. “It was an extremely challenging role. Rohini is not only physically a cripple but is also mentally handicapped not only because of her fears but also because she is forced to depend on others for everyday chores and she hates others showing empathy towards her. Her husband has left her after the accident and that bears heavily on her mind. Life does not give her a choice. This role has been a great experience for me,” says Sudipta.
“The content is divided into two segments and the sub-plots, shown through suggestion and flashbacks, lead up to these two segments. The several issues- incestuous abuse, permissive relationships, stalking that adds to fear and panic, all lead up to the two segments of this sister-centric film,” elaborates Mukherjee.
Film-maker Kamaleshwar Mukherjee as a police inspector, Anindya Banerjee plays Rohini’s husband, Ritwik Chakraborty and Shaheb Bhattacharjee as Sohini’s boyfriend are also in the cast. The two songs are written, composed and orchestrated by Santanu Ghosh Dastidar and Ayan Choudhury while Neel Adhikari has composed the background score and worked on the music for the songs. “It is a character-driven and performance-driven film rather than a story and event-driven film so I chose my cast with great care,” Mukherjee details.
Presented and produced by Aadidev Motions Films Pvt. Ltd and Raw Stock Motion Pictures, Bheetu has been cinematographed by Indraneel Mukherjee with art direction by Mridual Saswati while Samik Chatterjee is editing the film. “While the entire film was shot in Kolkata, 40 per cent of it was canned in the interiors of an apartment at Salt Lake because of budget constraints,” Mukherjee sums up.