One genre where Tollygunge had a void for long is adult detective thriller set in contemporary times. Ebar Shabor finally addresses it and clears the test, and that is its highest accomplishment.
Shirshenu’s Shabor Dasgupta, a senior police officer in detective department, is not celebrated like Feluda. Little wonder the author stopped writing the stories after a handful as they were not lapped up by the readers over time. Nevertheless Arindam was right in his decision to pick up Shabor for adaptation on big screen in addressing the void mentioned earlier. Also Rwin, the story on which Ebar Shabor is based, is a verbose one set mostly indoors. It does go to Arindam’s credit to have intelligently translated it on big screen by taking the story outdoors exploring various locations of Kolkata that give it its character. The scenes in
also add freshness to the frames. Pondicherry
I have a hunch that the seed of the film was sown during the filming of Kahaani, where Arindam was the executive producer. Kahaani had a Bengali soul and many like me must have thought something like this could have well been made in Bengali. It showed the potential of making such smart urban thrillers sitting in Tollygunge that blends the old world charm and heritage of Kolkata beautifully with storytelling.
Mitali (Swastika), a rich heiress gets mysteriously killed by stabbing in her bedroom one night after a party hosted by her at her place. Shabor takes up the case. He draws up the list of suspects all of who are found to have reasonable motive to kill. The audience is kept guessing till the end and here lies the success of a murder mystery. Through his interrogation we come across an ensemble of characters that give the story its rich tapestry- Mithu Mitra (Abir), a banker and Mitali’s ex-husband, Pantu Halder (Ritwik Chackraborty), a motor mechanic and Mitali’s neighbour, Samiran (Rahul), her close friend who is a spoilt son of a rich businessman (Santu Mukherjee), Khonika (Debleena Dutt), Samiran’s live-in girlfriend, Joyita (Payel), Mitali’s cousin and a shady woman Julekha (June). Mitali had fallen for Pantu in college and later left home for a whimsical marriage that lasted six months.
Ebar Shabor’s strength lies in its story, slick making, casting and performances. Shirsha Roy’s camera aids Arindam’s storytelling in an outstanding manner. Shirsha’s use of close-up shots help build the emotional map of the characters in a story that delves deep into their mindscape. Bickram Ghosh’s background score helps create the thriller tempo and his signature notes lend it a freshness. The director has preferred on-location shooting over studio floor and he is spot on in choosing his locations.
Good casting is director’s job half done and the performances are well delivered as expected from a well cast film with well-written characters. Despite someone of Saswata’s calibre playing the lead, I found Ritwik outshining everyone with his Pantu Halder, a motor mechanic who has a past of sound academic record. It was a treat to watch him bring edge to the uncouth character with nuanced diction among other things. Saswata has shown controlled emotions as Shabor, a hard-boiled cop who never lets his emotions out. He carries himself right, avoiding unnecessary flamboyance. He has worked hard on the action scenes, lost weight through workout and diet to look believable as the character. However I feel the characterization held him back from shining bright. He’s hardly shown thinking. It would be wise on the director’s part to spend some time showing his detection. Swastika, Abir, June, Payel and Dipankar (Mitali’s father) are apt in their roles. Rahul is typecast in such characters, though his comic timing is good as usual. Debleena has potential but she’s portrayed such character traits before. She underscores the glam quotient shared by Swastika and June.
Padmanava Dasgupta and Arindam’s script is decent, but could be tighter in the first half. The dialogue written by them is the weak link of the film. While the comic bits are good (Mostly with Rahul), it lacks the much-needed punch.
I expected the chase scenes to be racy, like we saw in Kahaani, but honestly speaking they didn’t really match up to it and looked repetitive as they continued. I also can’t help but wonder how realistic it is for Pantu to run that fast and long with an injured leg.
The songs are good and well-written (by adman Sugata Guha), and well used too, but not spaced out. One follows the other a little too soon.
But all these glitches are covered by the story with special mention to the high emotional note of the climax.
Overall, a good, entertaining watch. A new franchisee is established. Looking forward to the next instalment which is already being planned.
Photos sourced from Ebar Shabor Facebook group.
Photos sourced from Ebar Shabor Facebook group.