Kaushik Ganguly has won the National Award once again, this time for Best Bengali Film with his latest release ‘Bishorjon’. Strategically dished out on the eve of the Bengali New Year, the film ran to full houses at Kolkata multiplexes through the weekend. Friday was a double whammy, what with Ambedkar Jayanti and Good Friday, next came Noboborsho, and then it was Sunday again in the city that knows how to celebrate its holiday calendar. At the beginning of its first workweek, ‘Bishorjon’ continues to do decent enough.
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This success comes from an astute mix of well-chosen subject, a commercially successful tearjerker treatment, along with the right elements of political tension to bring in some critical acclaim. The story is easily told. Padma Halder (Joya Ahsan ), a widow living with her aged father-in-law in a village of Khulna bordering the Ichhamati, finds an unconscious and wounded man lying on the riverbank on the morning after Dashami. He turns out to be Nasir Ali (Abir Chatterjee) from Basirhat, who had fallen in the river during bishorjon and twisted his ankle. To protect him from Bangladeshi border security authorities, Padma coaches him to act as Subhas, her imaginary cousin from her home village in Faridpur. Nasir’s clearly Western Bengali accent is blamed on his continuous stay in India where he runs a saree shop. While the naive village doctor buys the story, Padma’s suitor, local fisheries businessman Ganesh Mondal’s (Kaushik Ganguly) suspicion is raised when his sidekick (Lama Halder) finds out that Padma has been making ISD calls to India from a local booth. Meanwhile, the father-in-law dies and Nasir and Padma fall in love out of a mutual respect for each other. On the eve of leaving the village, Nasir reveals that he is actually a smuggler who is part of a chain, and had fallen into the river when chased by a police boat. Padma reveals that she has bought safe passage for him in barter for a marriage with Ganesh. The two make love, following which Nasir leaves. The movie ends with a remarried Padma readying her little son to go out with Ganesh, and a birthmark on the boy’s back revealing to the audience that he is actually Nasir’s son.
The crews of the movie have done their job neatly enough, but there is no special mention to be made of anyone, except late Kalikaprasad Bhattacharya who contributed a number of tracks to this film before his tragic death. The cast has done well, with Joya and Kaushik vying with each other over who can steal the scene. Kamalika Banerjee does her job as a stock cameo of Kaushik’s simple-minded sister. Lama is efficient as the ‘big guy’s’ sidekick. Abir, for some reason, is wooden throughout the film and continues to remain stiff even when kissing Joya.
The script of the film deserves some attention. On one hand, the dialogues are spontaneous and well knit, and on the other hand, there is a mental sluggishness on part of the scriptwriter that casts characters in their stock moulds and then doesn’t care to develop them anywhere. When does Nasir start falling in love with Padma, if it can be termed ‘love’ and not merely a one-night stand? How does Padma get the unconscious Nasir home from the riverbank? Why does Nasir hold the Indian flag in his hand and why do we need the seriously weak scene where Padma presents him with flags of both countries sewn together? The couple’s pre-lovemaking sequence becomes an unashamed display of playing to the galleries, especially to a gallery full of well-meaning, middle-aged Bengali audience fond of becoming teary eyed from the comfort of their cushioned recliner seats.
At the same time, Kaushik Ganguly layers the characters of Padma and Ganesh in a way that will please audiences and satisfy critics at one go. There is no doubt that he is an able director, otherwise pulling off a box office hit with a story full of stereotypes is no mean feat. ‘Bishorjon‘ is easy on the famously delicate Bengali stomach, it’s a tearjerker with a happy ending, a border movie where both countries are presented in the best colour, and memories of the golden days of peaceful Bengali village life come rushing back, even to those who have no clue what it is.
All points taken into consideration, the advice is to watch ‘Bishorjon’ in a week of uninteresting releases, it’s definitely a better deal to enjoy the paper thin story but very solid acting by Kaushik-Joya, than to get dazed by the mindless extravaganza of ‘Fast and Furious’ once again.
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