Enjoyable ‘Mystery in History’: Durgeshgorer Guptodhon Review
In the backdrop of the vibrant and traditional Durga Puja of the aristocratic Deb Roy family, Sona Da, Abir and Jhinuk set off to unravel the ‘mystery in history’ – the lost treasures of Bengal’s richest merchant Jagat Seth, that might be hidden somewhere in Durgeshgor. Thirteen-year-old Anshula reviews Durgeshgorer Guptodhon, the sequel to Guptodhoner Sandhane.
Durgeshgorer Guptodhon, directed by Dhrubo Banerjee, begins with an animation done with Madhubani style paintings through which the director goes deep into the history of Bengal at the time of the Battle of Plassey in 1757 when Nawab Siraj-ud-Daulah was defeated by Robert Clive.
We come to know why the Battle of Plassey happened and also the story behind it about the richest man of Bengal Jagat Seth who had sided with the British. He was so rich that he was the only currency converter in India and was known as the banker of the world.
Jagat Seth helped Mir Jafar in the conspiracy against Siraj-ud-Daulah and that helped the British to win the Battle of Plassey. The Britishers made Mir Jafar the puppet king but his successor Mir Qasim killed Jagat Seth by betrayal by throwing him into the river. Before Jagat Seth was killed he gave a huge portion of his wealth to his close friend Raja Krishna Chandra Roy, the ruler of Krishnanagar. Although Mir Qasim imprisoned Krishna Chandra Roy, Robert Clive helped him get released. Once out of jail, Krishna Chandra Roy distributed Jagat Seth’s wealth to his friends and relatives for safe keeping. One of them was Durgagoti Roy, the zamindar of Durgeshgor, a close friend of Raja Krishna Chandra.
So this is the “mystery in history” which Subarna Sen, fondly called Sona da by everyone (Abir Chatterjee) and his satellites Abir (Arjun Chakraborty) and Jhinuk (Ishaa Saha) try to solve. Sona da was a history professor at Oxford University who had come back to Kolkata to teach. Abir is a lawyer and Jhinuk is studying Comparative Literature in Jadavpur University. Abir is Sona da’s nephew and Jhinuk is Abir’s childhood friend. They had earlier solved a treasure hunt of the lost treasure of Shah Shujah in Guptodhoner Sandhane. This is their second adventure.
The entire mystery is unravelled through clues that are embedded in the songs sung during the Durga Puja rituals at the Deb Roy household at Durgeshgor where the three are invited by Sona Da’s student Damburopani Deb Roy or Dumbell (Aryann Bhowmick). Trying to solve the mystery behind a stolen antique dagger that belonged to this family makes the threesome set off on this adventure.
Only Sona da is able to understand the clues and Abir memorises the songs. Also once when he dives in the water he memorises a rhyme written on the wall of the pond by seeing it just once. By this act, he gets a new nickname by Jhinuk, “TMT – Tene Mukhosto Theory” (Thoroughy Memorized Theory).
The shooting has been done outside of Kolkata in a big palatial house, small villages and forests. Also underwater where Abir dives and brings out the golden conch. Some scenes are shot in the underground cavern and the caves where the treasure is hidden.
I liked the performance of Abir Chatterjee (playing Sona da) and Lily Chakrabarty playing the aged Pishima (aunt). Isha (Jhinuk’s) performance was also much better than the last movie – Guptodhoner Sandhane. I liked the character of Abir (Arjun Chakrabarty) in both the movies. It has two reasons – first, he is such a big foodie and comedian, who makes everyone laugh with antics and expressions. Secondly, he is very lively, positive and brave because he has just learned swimming and yet he has the courage to dive into the water in the dark night where no one knows what will happen.
How is Durgeshgorer Guptodhon different from other detective films?
Only Sona Da is able to figure out the clues hidden in the beautiful songs. These songs which are part of the Durga puja rituals have been sung for generations after Raja Krishna Chandra Roy had visited the Deb Roy household. The songs hide riddles within them. Everyone in the house knows the songs and sings them but no one thought they had clues. Neither Abir or Jhinuk nor the audience can spot the clues. Like in Satyajit Ray’s Sonar Kella we all know that the fake Dr Hazra has kidnapped Mukul and Feluda is trying rescue him. But in Durgeshgorer Guptodhon no one knows who the villain is till the end. Some characters take a complete u-turn at the end leaving us all surprised.
The beautiful kaash phool (Kans grass) that bloom at the time of Durga Puja sway in the green fields as the procession goes to the pond for the “kaula bou chaan” (ritual bath for the banana plant which is the wife of Lord Ganesha). With the women wearing red bordered white saris and the men in kurta pajama or dhotis, it looks beautiful as they sing the Kaula Bou gaan when walking through the fields.
We get a glimpse of the beautiful rituals and traditional delicacies and flavours of Durga Puja. The Deb Roy household women feed the men, including Sona Da and Abir so generously with elaborate traditional dishes of Bengal that the audience starts feeling hungry. I ate up most of the large bucket of popcorn.
Most of the saris are red or yellow in colour. The women wear a lot of traditional jewellery including large nose rings. One beautiful scene is the Dhunuchi Naach, the ritual dance of Durga Puja by Sona Da, Abir and Jhinuk in front of the idol.
The most irritating character is Trishulpani Deb Roy who keeps cribbing through the film, insulting his guests. He has returned from USA and keeps complaining about the treasure hunt, the traditional values, the expenses and what not. His negative attitude spoils the fun of Durga Puja for everyone. Kaushik Sen puts up a marvellous performance.
The sets created by art director Tanmoy Chakraborty for the treasure hunt look so real that I felt it was real. The red cavern into which Sona Da, Abir, Jhinuk and the little boy Kucho are pushed in looks scary and the bear that comes sniffing gave me a fright. Jhinuk plays dead and that saves her from the bear.
Oddly, Sona Da keeps wearing a dark beige blazer through most of the film, even in the countryside which is far away from the city while everyone else is in T-shirts or kurta pajama. The underwater wall of the pond where Abir finds the hidden inscription or the decorated cave where Sona Da opens the hidden combination lock to discover the treasure are beautiful. Another odd thing is Abir staying underwater for so long, when he has just learned to swim. But he looks very cute and his constant food pangs make us all laugh. The clues such as the silver dagger or the golden conch are beautiful. Aparup Da (Kharaj Mukherjee) gets some of the most hilarious dialogues in the film with lots of puns and keeps laughing at his own jokes.
I liked Durgeshgorer Guptodhon for its songs too, the History Rap Vol. 2 sung by Bickram Ghosh. The music is composed by Bickram Ghosh and the lyrics are written by Subhendu Dasmunshi. There are some nice devotional songs too.
Overall, I felt the earlier film Guptodhoner Sandhane was better than this one. As it had tighter dialogues and there was no sudden change in the behaviour of the characters.
(Pictures courtesy Google Image Search)
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