Cast: Aparna Sen, Chiranjeet, Goutam Ghosh, Parambrata, Payel Sarkar, Kaushik Ganguly, Indrashis Roy, Rahul, Koneenica Banerjee, Barun Chanda, Anindya Chatterjee, Debleena Dutt, Biswajit Chakraborty, Arpita Chatterjee and others
Direction: Srijit Mukherji
Duration: 2 hours 27 minutes
Story: Four directors — Trina (Aparna Sen), Shakyo (Goutam Ghosh), Dipta (Chiranjeet) and Joybrata (Parambrata Chatterjee) — are asked by a producer (Kaushik Ganguly) to make a joint film featuring four short stories with a single core theme — death. On their way to meet the producer, the four are forced to spend a night at an isolated bungalow, where their common past catches up with them.
Review: That life is an inescapable cycle of deeds, misdeeds, regrets and retribution, that every action invites a reaction, however delayed, and that the beauty of life lies in its innumerable flaws is what Chotushkone is about. And director and scriptwriter Srijit Mukherji has woven all this and more into an absolute audiovisual treat with elan.
The visual treat begins with the masterful use of light, shadows and perspectives to create an almost surrealistic frame, as a woman’s bangled hand writes her last words before she ends her own life. And that’s just the beginning; our tryst with refreshing camerawork continues till the last frame. Otherwise insignificant props come to life as the camera captures the gentle sway of a wooden idol on Dipta’s cluttered table, the crushed cigarette packs lying on the floor of Bedoshruti’s (Chiranjeet) ramshackle abode or the fluttering flames on four unequal candles burning on a dining table, to name a few. The interplay of haziness and clarity in Trina’s dream is another high point that requires special mention. The way the blurred backdrop of her past and the clarity of her present are masterfully woven into a continuous shot is too good to escape mention. As for continuity, there are no jerks anywhere in the flow of the visuals or the storyline. Props, backdrops, character movements have been used perfectly to make one shot melt into the next with fluidic grace. Hats off to cinematographer Sudeep Chatterjee for breathing life into everything his camera touches.
Anupam Roy’s music, too, complements the visual brilliance, with the songs breathing freshness into the narrative at the right moments. Even here, cinematography takes the cake, as the way the songs have been visually treated is nothing short of brilliant. Be it the camera slowly panning and zooming out from the waves kissing the sides of a ferry carrying the protagonists across a river to a broader shot encompassing the whole landscape, or the cans of paints Mimi (Konineeca) pushes off a table in Dipta’s office-cum-studio. Even here, the director’s attention to detail is visible, as Dipta is an artist first and then an actor-director. According to his character portrait, he had started off as a graphic artist in an ad agency before venturing into cinema. So, the presence of half-painted canvases on easels and paint cans in his studio is completely justified. The background score by Indraadip Das Gupta flows in and out of the subconscious, while defining the emotional curves in the storyline. As for acting, with stalwarts like Aparna Sen, Goutam Ghosh, Chiranjeet, Barun Chanda and Kaushik Ganguly sharing screen space with talented actors like Parambrata Chatterjee, Indrashis Roy and Rahul, what we get is a heady mix of powerful body language and soothing eloquence that adds to the visual fluidity. Even Paayel Sarkar, Konineeca Banerjee, Anindya Chatterjee and a host of other actors revolve perfectly in their respective orbits. Aparna Sen, for instance, is fantastic as a caring wife who still has a soft corner for a man who dominated a large part of her youth and who she now refuses to touch with a barge pole. Only an Aparna Sen can make the audience feel the undercurrent of rekindled feelings rippling through her mind while keeping her face stoic and mouthing whole-hearted cynicism. Chiranjeet, too, pulls off the role of Dipta’s creation, Bedoshruti, with elan — his expressions clearly portraying the feelings of a man gnawed by urge to drag on a cigarette in the dead of the night, when he runs about trying to get hold of one. Dipta’s own embittered self and his years-old soft corner for Trina is also evident as Chiranjeet goes about having verbal duels with his rebellious son, debating on the pros and cons of filmmaking and acting with his old friend Shakyo and hiding his feelings from Trina and the others. Gautam Ghosh, too, plays his part of the low-profile ‘third’ person in a seasoned love triangle to perfection. But he really shines as the ‘death’ expert — the man who specializes in writing sequences where actors in serials have to be written off the track for myriad reasons. His expressions when he is accosted by the ghosts of characters he had ‘killed’ in various serials are too good. But it’s Parambrata who takes the cake with his portrayal of a shy, fumbling actor-director — the fourth corner of the quadrilateral — who brings the film project to the three others. But to say more about his character would be criminal, as he has to be seen in action. Kaushik Ganguly, too, shines in his small but pivotal role in the film. It is, in fact, he who will make you feel a lump in your throat, as he powerfully pushes the film towards its emotional climax.
As for the storyline, it’s eloquence in motion from the beginning to the subtly Hitchcockian twist to the emotional climax. Nothing seems out of place in the narrative, though it is a complex tale heavy on emotional undercurrents and at least four sub-tracks. The character portraits are clear, the flow fast and crisp, and the element of intrigue is constant till the mystery ends in the central theme of the film itself — death. In short, Chotuskone is storytelling at its best, be it in the form of the smaller treads woven into the bigger embroidery or the black and white frill that adds to the intrigue. Srijit has truly sewn together four corners of a tale that will be remembered for quite a while.
Putting it straight, it takes time, effort and amazing clarity to create a film like Chotuskone. And it just takes the will and the ticket money to experience it. Muster that will and you will surely thank yourself after the curtains close.
Chotushkon is a bengali movie, directed by Srijit Mukherji, starring Aparna Sen, Chiranjit, Gautam Ghosh, Parambrato Chattopadhyay along with others.