Sunday, October 16, 2016
Film musing - Zulfiqar (Bengali)
Zulfiqar. Ceaser + Anthony & Cleopatra. In Bengali. Transported to the dock underworld of Calcutta. Note that I have put it as Calcutta and not Kolkata. I know this underworld a lot closely. I know the kind of people who have made money here. I know of people who have flourished and how. Who managed the dock workers. The truck parking. The boys who worked illegally in the parking lots. The illegal auctions of items off the broken down ships. The scrap. The voluminous smuggling off broken open containers. I can go on and on. It sort of got set up as an organized underworld in the middle 70s. The parties entered it in the early 80s and even now the guys who profit the most from it are around wearing the colours of a particular party. The spread is now from Kidderpore to Budge Budge. The movie skims through this history very simply in the first few minutes of the film and quickly comes to the conflict between the members of the highest echelon of the underworld, the syndicate. Since, I don't do reviews I shall refrain from going through the story. Suffice to say, much happens but actually not much meat. Srijit, the director, has created a large canvas for himself. Then, he flounders badly. This is a large story. Ceaser. Zulfiqar. It needs that time to spice the politics happening. To bring in the right marinate and make the meat juicy. Brutus or Bashir here was not just a good man who killed his friend over some misinformation fed to him by Cassius or Kashinath here. There was a lot of undercurrents. At the personal level as well as the political level. There were family intrigues. I really thought Srijit underdid those areas of the story. He had the actors who could have pulled it off. But he chose not to. In the last few scenes, it was sad to see him get the entire cast do a confusing gunfight scene in the dock like the 90s Mithun classics. Locations of the gunfight shifting in a jiffy. Prasenjit Chatterjee as Zulfiqar is trying, hard. One can see that. But he does not have the gravitas to pull this off. His screen son loving the same woman Rani Talapatra or Cleopatra is even poorer. Anthony's debauchery does not even start to peek through. Rani Talapatra is done by Sayantika who starts off proceedings on a strong note. A scale that tells me that she will play the queen in a certain manner. And then I am devastated to see that she becomes the whimpering B grade Bangla film heroine. Parambrata and Dev are a duo here. Tony Braganza and Marcus. Zulfiqar depends on them the most. They do well in the beginning. Parambrata does the talking. Anglo Indian English peppered with some Hindi and Bangla. He does it well. Dev is dumb. No talking. He does most of the fighting. Does it well. They have a little bromance going. But just when it starts to go well, there's a strong stage scene and all goes haywire and downhill from there for these two actors. The saviour is an actor called Kaushik Sen. He plays Bashir. He talks in a higher pitch. Is a kind of a good man in a bad trade. Kaushik nails most of his scenes. He has great expressive eyes. The director is intelligent enough to spot this early and gives him a lot of close ups. Kaushik also gets his Calcutta Hindi very right. There's a scene. Bashir is calling back Zulfiqar's friends and family from where they are hiding. Kaushik is seated in the corner of a large sofa with a cellphone. The only movement in that dark scene is his eyes and head. Must say, I was blown by his act. Jishu as Kashinath and Paoli Dam as Zulfiqar's wife are simply not there with their complicated roles. I could not even understand what Paoli was saying in a couple of scenes. Srijit is probably looking at quantity but then he should attempt simpler films. Simpler stories. Ceaser is very complicated. Shakespeare meant it that way. So that people could come back over and over again to see his plays. This was Srijit's Bombay Velvet.