At the end of the day filmmaking I feel is about how well you narrate a story. Srijit Mukherji no doubt knows how to narrate a story. While I was waiting to watch this movie from Sep 26th, the day it released in West Bengal, it finally made it to Bombay this week.Chotushkone (Quadrangle) was marketed as a thriller, but I feel it would be laziness on our part to slot this film in just one genre; it is a quirky film where Srijit clearly wants to have fun and at the same time engage the audience as well.
One major reason why Chotushkone works is because of its casting. Srijit seems to have fun with the film, blurring the lines of reality and illusion. In a scene where Parambrata Chatterjee (Joy) tells Aparna Sen (Trina) that he has only made two films and that he will gain experience by working with seniors including her, we know it is in reference to Parambrata himself who apart from being an actor has made 2 films till now (he is currently busy making his 3rd film,Lorai).
When Chiranjit Chakraborty (Dipto) tells Gautam Ghose (Sakyo) that success of commercial films leads to making of art films like the ones made by Gautam, he goes on to explain how cinema is a proletariat medium rather than bourgeois. For those who are not clued into Bengali cinema, Chiranjit is an actor who was associated with commercial potboilers of the 80’s and 90’s while Gautam represents art cinema in real life.
More than a thriller, Srijit makes us embark us on a journey of creative process, while Gautam’s story deals with how a creator deals with characters he or she has created, I felt it was an ode to Mrinal sen’s telefilm- Tasveer Apni Apni. We all know how Mrinal Sen used his films to propagate the idea of Marxism, later on he was accused by same party cadres of betraying the movement because he had started questioning the idea of Marxism. Similarly you see in Gautam’s story how a character accuses the writer of being a sellout.
In Chiranjit’s story if you look at the surface level it is about cigarette addiction, but look closer and you will realize that it is one helluva story which gives a big middle finger to the censor board and it’s stupid rule of having the ‘smoking kills’ scroll in films. Or in an even more boarder concept it is about a filmmaker or artist wanting to express his ideas, but then like the police officer the moral police comes into picture and puts pressure on filmmakers on how they should make a film, or on what topic they should make a film etc. Well as a country we drove out M.F Hussain, just because we could not understand his art and could not respect his freedom of expression.
In Aparna Sen’s story we have a character who is named Meenakshi Iyer, an English teacher. Interestingly Meenakshi Iyer was the name of the character played by Konkona Sen in Aparna Sen’s own Mr. & Mrs.Iyer. Srijit clearly enjoys having fun with his audience, it is like a magician pulling out his tricks one after another in order to entertain you.
Chotushkone on one hand uses all these metaphors on how a film gets made, how characters are developed etc and it also indulges the audience in what is real and what is not. It tries to ask us if can art be original.
More than death which seems to be quite in focus as a factor in the film, Srijit I feel is interested in the creative process of why people want to tell a story. He is sporting enough to use a cliche like breakdown of car in middle of road, something which he did brilliantly in interval block for Autograph and present it in another way which elevates the scene to something beyond a routine cliche.
One thing I absolutely loved was the depiction of love between Moloy, Trina and Dipto. It is wonderful to see how this episode is handled and it showcases how you can love two people at one time.
Music of the film as usual just as in all Srijit’s films is top notch, though I felt the ‘Boba Tunnel’ song was a hindrance to the story and not needed. Like in his previous film Srijit here gives tribute to Tagore with ‘Chirosakha’ which comes towards the climax and at the beginning of the movie.
It is good to see Srijit not using gimmicky camera moments like he did in some of his previous films,he now comes across as a director who is now confident about his story telling skills.
Chotushkone is a quirky, fun ride which Srijit pulls of elegantly. Had it been a director of less calibre it would have been a mess. 2014 would certainly be a memorable year for Srijit with two of his films hitting the bulls eye critically and commercially (the other film being Jaatishwar)
Chotushkone reaffirms the fact that Srijit is a director to watch out for.
Note-Chotushkone is currently playing in select cinemas in Mumbai, Pune, Delhi/NCR, Bangalore, Hyderabad with English subtitles.