Language : Bengali | Running Time : 153 Minutes | Director : Srijit Mukherji
Truth seekers, sleuths, know it all historians, we have had our share of Sherlock Holmes wannabes, some becoming more endearing than Holmes. Satyajit Ray gave us Feluda and Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay gaves us Byomkesh Bakshi, a character I am familiar only through films but if I am to believe my Bengali speaking friends, he is a highly successful detective in the novels. Another such detective to come from the land is Kakababu, a character created by the great writer,Sunil Gangopadhyay. In his latest venture Mishawr Rawhoshyo, Srijit Mukherji tries to make an adventure film with Egypt, the land of pyramids and mysteries as his place of interest. Srijit Mukherji has had a highly successful and interesting career so far with movies like Autograph, Baishe Srabon and Hemlock Society establishing him as a director who can handle diverse subjects. Adventure films are like pot-pourri, a mixture of different emotions and fun. It is understandable how Srijit Mukherji felt that this is the right thing for him.
Kakababu(Prosenjit Chatterjee) is approached by Al Mamun(Rajit Kapur), an Egyptian businessman operating from Delhi, to decipher the meaning of hieroglyphic symbols that are being drawn by his teacher, Mufti Mohammed a.ka Baba Peer(Barun Chanda), a self-styled fakir. It isn’t sufficient that we have an all-knowing hero, we also need an all-knowing antagonist for Kakababu to make use of his head. Here comes the Hani Alkadi(Indraneil Sengupta), a man who knows 17 languages(Bengali being one of them) and someone who has read Rabindranath Tagore‘s Gitanjali in Bengali. It is rather pointlessly romantic to give such a local flavour to an Egyptian. Hani Alkadi is on top of the wanted list in Egypt but no one knows where he is and the Egyptian police seem even more poorly equipped than their Indian counterparts in the movie.
Where would Sherlock be without his Watson? Kakababu’s Watson is his nephew, Shontu(Aryaan Bhowmick). If we were to consider Feluda and Topshe as a model, then I’d say that Kakababu and Shontu are very hard pressed to match them and are miles behind. Prosenjit fits in the role beautifully and he does a remarkable job with what he has in the name of a character but everything around him is poor or underdeveloped and there is very little to appreciate apart from him. The idea to include romance and humor is good and necessary in an adventure film, especially when your film has a runtime of 153 minutes but that doesn’t mean that one has to make do with bumbling, unintelligent characters to satisfy that need.
The reason why we like Sherlock Holmes and Feluda is that they come across as intelligent people when placed in surroundings that are tough and the adversary is also intelligent, cunning and menacing. In Mishawr Rawhoshyo, the dumbness of other characters and Prosenjit’s aura are what makes Kakababu look intelligent. Rajit Kapur and Indraneil Sengupta do a good job as devotees of Baba Peer who are leading opposing factions. Barun Chanda and Rajesh Sharma are proven actors handling important roles.
The script in this one is riddled with age-old tactics and tropes that have been used aplenty before this movie. There is hardly any surprise in the way things turn out and if an adventure film which is trying to unearth a secret cannot be mysterious, it doesn’t make for interesting cinema. At times, we feel that there are more theatrics and shoddy dialogue written when Hani Alkadi is communicating with Kakababu but the scenes with the two men in the same frame are some of the better filmed sequences in the movie. The talk of revolution and ideals is particularly interesting but when you start thinking that the conversation is interesting, theatricality sets in and cinematic impact starts losing its value. One scene in particular where I was disappointed at the overdose of theatricality is when Hani Alkadi is trying to plead with Kakababu to support him in his revolution. After an interesting conversation where motive and agenda is set, when it comes to actual pleading, there’s a substandard effort and this is a scenario throughout the movie. Just when you feel that there is more to it than meets the eye, it makes sure you make no mistake in thinking in such a manner and bam, we are back to dreaming about Felu and Topshe or Sherlock and Watson.
The cinematography is nothing short of an eyesore. I failed to grasp the need for split screen videos in a perfectly normal car chase sequence when they failed to add to the experience. They were a distraction and it also doesn’t help that the movie looks to be shot with serious budget constraints. The images on-screen seem to be shot and processed like in an amateurish experiment. These are visuals more at home in TV serials and not in films. Egypt is a beautiful place and shooting there shouldn’t be too much of an eyesore. More than the beauty of the shots, it was the lack of well conceived shots that were a pain. The angles were mostly uncomfortable and confusing, rushed largely in all the wrong places.
This is by far an extraordinarily weak attempt on Srijit Mukherji’s part. He has done extremely well in the past and I hope this ends up as a minor blip in an otherwise very promising filmography. He still has other Kakababu films to do and I hope he avoids genre tropes and does something which is exciting and watch worthy. Clive Cussler wrote the same kind of adventure novels but most of us ended up reading them because they provided an adrenaline rush and Dirk Pitt was a compelling character. I hope Srijit Mukherji can make his Kakababu compelling and intelligent without having to dumb down the other characters or make them look like people who haven’t managed to develop further than fifth grade. It isn’t sufficient that the setting of the story has been shifted to modern times, the characters and the story should also be developed with more wisdom.
Mishawr Rawhoshyo didn’t work for me. It failed to excite me technically or with its script or characters. It ended up trying to mimic better done films but without intelligence or substance. This is a film for which I have no love and I am disappointed and disheartened. Many a time, I was hoping for Soumtira Chatterjee(my Felu) to jump in and tell everyone what they were doing wrong.