Story and direction: Ranjan Ghosh
Music: Mayookh Bhaumik
Cast: Abir Chatterjee, Raima Sen, Arun Mukherjee, Tamal Roychoudhury, Barun Chanda and others
By Shoma A. Chatterji
Celebrating Shakespeare’s tragic heroes on the one hand and tackling with the persistent conflict between chance and reason is a daunting task. Ranjan Ghosh, a Whistling Woods alumni who wrote the script for Aparna Sen’s Iti Mrinalini took up the gauntlet. Hrid Majharey is a story of intrigue rooted in love and its loss. The story explores these areas mainly from the point of view of its protagonist Abhijit Chatterjee (Abir Chatterjee), who teaches Mathematics at a noted college and is popular among his students. A chance encounter with a lady soothsayer in a city restaurant triggers a catharsis in his mindset. She makes dark and ominous comments.
From a rational, sensible man with a scientific bent of mind, Abhijit slowly gets sucked into a vortex of chance that he comes to believe, is ruling his life. This happens after he meets and falls in love with a beautiful cardiologist (Raima Sen).
Much like Shakespeare’s tragic hero Othello, Abhijit finds things spin out of control which worsens when the couple moves to the Andaman Islands in the hope that a change of scene will bring Abhijit back to normal. Ranjan keeps the film open-ended with two alternative closures leaving the audience to take its pick.
Technically, the film is beautifully made with some of the most outstandingly aesthetic cinematography (Shirsa Ray) one has seen in recent times. The music (Mayookh Bhaumik) is melodious and mood-centric. There is pleasant relief in the few numbers. Kaushiki’s lilting voice enriches the song lip-synced by Raima. The sound track is filled with bird-cries, footsteps sounding on the floors, ambient sound are good too. The production design ranging from the corridors of the college to the staffroom and the playground, Abhijit’s home with the sister and the artist boyfriend adding a bit of bonhomie, the unsmiling old family retinue, the apartment in the Andaman Islands, the small trip to the cellular jail is praiseworthy.
Add to this the performances. Abir in a layered role convincingly metamorphoses from a happy, ambitious and successful young man to a defeatist filled with self-doubt, diffidence, emotional insecurity and suspicion, not knowing which way to go or look or who to turn to. Raima as the cardiologist keeps him good company — full of love, sympathy and the willingness to stand by him whatever comes. But there are issues. She is a cardiologist, so one wonders why it did not occur to go for psychological counselling. Indrashish as the NGO activist is given a brand new look and justifies this with a sparkling performance. The youngsters who step in as Abhijit’s sister and her boyfriend are spontaneous and natural.
The script is quite slow till the interval and then picks up momentum enough to make us sit up and pay close attention. It leaves several loose ends which the audience would have to lap up as entertainment. It would have offered relief to an otherwise dark and depressing story. Among these are – what happened to that girl who had falsely accused Abhijit of having sexually harassed her with obscene e-mails because he rebuffed her advances. This could have come as second-hand reference. Or, why did Abhijit lose track of his mathematics so completely and so rapidly? Perhaps, the tragic hero of Shakespeare, 450 years after him, has lost his appeal in 2014. Yet, Hrid Majharey needs to be commended because of the technical command of the director, his conviction and his honesty.