Stay tuned to our new posts and updates! Click to join us on WhatsApp L&C-Whatsapp & Telegram telegram Channel
ISSN 2231 - 699X | A Publication on Cinema & Allied Art Forms
 
 
Support LnC-Silhouette. Great reading for everyone, supported by readers. SUPPORT
L&C-Silhouette Subscribe
The L&C-Silhouette Basket
L&C-Silhouette Basket
A hand-picked basket of cherries from the world of most talked about books and popular posts on creative literature, reviews and interviews, movies and music, critiques and retrospectives ...
to enjoy, ponder, wonder & relish!

Shantilal O Projapoti Rohoshyo: A Character Study Disguised as a Detective Film

August 19, 2019 | By

Pratim D. Gupta’s films have always been more than what you see. Shantilal O Projapoti Rohoshyo, in the guise of a ‘detective’ story is more a meditation on the loneliness of the human condition. A Silhouette review by Shantanu Ray Chaudhuri.

Shantilal O Projapoti Rohoshyo poster

Cast: Ritwick Chakraborty, Paoli Dam, Sanghasri Sinha Mitra, Ambarish Bhattacharya
Rating: 3 and ½ stars

This one’s a rare bird – a ‘detective’ story on the surface but one that consistently breaks the tropes associated with the genre. This is not surprising given that when the film-maker first wrote it – his script of the film, then titled Ink, was selected for the prestigious Sundance Screenwriters Lab in 2013 – he did not think of it as a detective film. It is also not surprising that Pratim approaches the material in the manner he does. His films have always been more than what you see. The edginess of Shaheb Bibi Golaam and the quirkiness of Machher Jhol camouflaged their essence. Ahare Mon, for all practical purposes, is a love story, but dig a little deeper and you are aware that it’s more a meditation on the loneliness of the human condition. So also Shantilal – avoid the pitfalls of judging it by what you see on the surface and you realise that this is essentially a character study disguised as a detective film.

ritwick bhattacharya shantilal

Shantilal (Ritwick Chakraborty) is a weather reporter at an English newspaper, The Sentinel (Pic: Facebook)

Shantilal (Ritwick) is a weather reporter at an English newspaper, The Sentinel. By all accounts, he is trapped in a dead-end job, reporting on mundanities like ‘The Heat Is On’ (even though the met department says that the average temperature has been lower this particular summer). In nine years on the weather beat, he has had no by-lines (except for the time when Cyclone Alia came calling – but as he says wistfully to his mother, ‘Storms don’t come every day, do they?’). One of the few pleasures of his life is his stack of porn DVDs and that’s what leads him to a life-changing experience. One particular film catches his attention for the tattoo of a butterfly engraved on the actress participating in it. When he accidentally espies the same tattoo on the current heart-throb of the Bengali film industry, Nandita (Paoli Dam), who is contemplating a career switch to politics, Shantilal knows he is on to something big. What follows is his journey into the dark world of the snuff film and body doubles. A journey that takes him from Kolkata to Chennai and to Singapore, in search of Padma Pictures (one-time purveyors of porn who have now become producers of respectable ‘family’ entertainers) and the elusive Roshni (Sanghasri Sinha Mitra) with whom lies the secret of Nandita’s past.

Shantilal review

Paoli Dam as Nandita (Pic: Facebook)

As befits a character study, the film is leisurely paced. Even as Shantilal goes through the motions of his life and then grows obsessed with the butterfly tattoo and the superstar, the film grows on you. The director draws you in, not with any hyper-kinetic action or blood or gore, but with the nuances that underlie the characters of Shantilal and Nandita and the way they evolve. In a film that has for all practical purposes just two characters, it helps that both Ritwick and Paoli are in top form. What a pleasure it is to see Ritwick in almost every frame of a film. Here’s an actor who can make the simple gesture of placing his palm on his chin and looking out at the city go by while travelling in an auto speak volumes. Whether he is eavesdropping on a conversation of his more happening and cool colleagues at a restaurant or slyly negotiating the breaking news he has with his editor, you simply can’t take your eyes off him lest you miss that understated gesture, that nod of the head.

This is what makes Paoli’s act that much more impactful. She owns the film’s climatic ten-minute act with a bravura performance that brings forth every aspect of her character, her vulnerability, her strength, her determination not to lose what she has worked hard to get, even her ruthlessness. This sequence, one of the film’s highlights, crackles with palpable tension as the two engage in a psychological thrust-and-parry leaving you wondering which way the narrative will turn. And it’s the denouement, given the darkness at the film’s core, that raises the film to another level.

What a pleasure it is to see Ritwick in almost every frame of a film (Pic: Facebook)

Pratim leavens the film’s dark moments with his characteristic brand of humour. Just look at the sequence where a porn film dealer tries to influence a customer to buy Bunuel and Bergman (you don’t need to understand the language, he reasons, like you don’t for a porn film – at least you get to see classics!). Or when at last Shantilal reaches Roshni, who now runs an escort service in Singapore (Sanghasri, all wasted and sprawled on the couch, is telling in this brief sequence, particularly when she asks for a mirror to look at the tikli Shantilal has placed on her forehead as fees for the information he needed). As he is photographed by one of the attendants for their record and documentation, and you are aware of the very real danger Shantilal is in, the girl tells him, ‘You may smile if you want to!’ And you as a viewer can’t help but smile at the throwaway manner in which the moment plays out.

If there’s one thing I could carp about, it’s the ease with which Shantilal lands up in Singapore given his financial constraints. Yes, Pratim is careful to introduce the character of Rocket Ronjan (Ambarish Bhattacharya) who facilitates it, but it does feel like a contrivance, a creative licence, which sticks out in a film that is otherwise so good. That, however, is a minor crib in a film that has so much to offer.

More to read

Ahaa Re: If Food be the Music of Love, Cook On…

Tarikh – Moving Beyond Deadlines and Datelines

Nagarkirtan: Love that Transcends Conventional Gender Clichés

Hope you enjoyed reading…

… we have a small favour to ask. More people are reading and supporting our creative, informative and analytical posts than ever before. And yes, we are firmly set on the path we chose when we started… our twin magazines Learning and Creativity and Silhouette Magazine (LnC-Silhouette) will be accessible to all, across the world.

We are editorially independent, not funded, supported or influenced by investors or agencies. We try to keep our content easily readable in an undisturbed interface, not swamped by advertisements and pop-ups. Our mission is to provide a platform you can call your own creative outlet and everyone from renowned authors and critics to budding bloggers, artists, teen writers and kids love to build their own space here and share with the world.

When readers like you contribute, big or small, it goes directly into funding our initiative. Your support helps us to keep striving towards making our content better. And yes, we need to build on this year after year. Support LnC-Silhouette with a little amount – and it only takes a minute. Thank you

Support LnC-Silhouette

Creative Writing

Whether you are new or veteran, you are important. Please contribute with your articles on cinema, we are looking forward for an association. Send your writings to amitava@silhouette-magazine.com

Shantanu Ray Chaudhuri is an editor with India's leading publishing house. He pioneered the publishing of books of cinema in India and books commissioned by him have won the National Award for Best Book on Cinema and the MAMI Award for Best Writing on Cinema. He has worked with leading Indian authors like Manu Joseph, Raj Kamal Jha, Arun Shourie, Gulzar and many others. He won the Editor of the Year Award, given by the apex publishing body Publishing Next, in 2017.
All Posts of Shantanu Ray Chaudhuri

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Silhouette Magazine publishes articles, reviews, critiques and interviews and other cinema-related works, artworks, photographs and other publishable material contributed by writers and critics as a friendly gesture. The opinions shared by the writers and critics are their personal opinion and does not reflect the opinion of Silhouette Magazine. Images on Silhouette Magazine are posted for the sole purpose of academic interest and to illuminate the text. The images and screen shots are the copyright of their original owners. Silhouette Magazine strives to provide attribution wherever possible. Images used in the posts have been procured from the contributors themselves, public forums, social networking sites, publicity releases, YouTube, Pixabay and Creative Commons. Please inform us if any of the images used here are copyrighted, we will pull those images down.

Silhouette on Facebook