Autograph has been directed by Srijit Mukherjee, an economist by education who has directed an English play called Mindgames in the past as well as directed another successful and critically acclaimed play called Feluda ‘Ferot’ based on characters from Feluda’s stories and is told from the perspective of Feluda’s arch rival Maghanlal Meghraj.
He is a huge fan of Satyajit Roy and it had been his dream all along to direct a film on the lines of Nayak which featured the superstar of Tollywood of yesteryears –Uttam Kumar. One might also say that he is the only superstar of the industry whose mass appeal has survived even after so many years and appeals equally to the masses and classes whereas regarding the latter, he has mainly appealed to the masses.Anyways that is different matter altogether.
Srijit ‘s Autograph’ is basically a film within a film that attempts to showcase the moods and character of one particular superstar –Arun Chatterjee and at the same time it ha s also tried to show the dark tales behind the stardom. This film is supposed to be a tribute to both Ray and Uttam Kumar as it is on the lines of Nayak.In fact so much so the central character of the film is called Arun Chatterjee (Uttam Kumar’s real name).Such is the influence and inspiration behind making the film.Srijit’s touches make this a different film and also the story is a little different from Nayak.
While Nayak was about Arindam Mukherjee and the train journey where the entire plot regarding his story to stardom was revealed, here we get to see the inner demons of Arun trying to bring up the lonely past, how he deals with his loneliness and also he can not acquire love though it is just within his reach as his loved one actually belongs to someone else.
We see the superstar Arun Chatterjee in a brilliant manner from various angles. Like for example like form the photographs of him on his walls, when he topples over the pawn on the chess board when he is playing all alone maybe with his loneliness, when he stands on the roof top of the skyscraper and he looks at the world around him or for matter when he says ‘ I am Arun Chatterjee’-the industry quite a few times and creates an immediate impact in our minds just with these two lines.
Indraneil Sengupta plays Subho, an inspiring filmmaker highly inspired by Ray and Bergman who gets a dream chance to get the superstar Arun Chatterjee to play the lead role as well as produce his directorial venture. Yet somewhere something goes wrong and it all ends in a mess. Initially he is just like any director but as time progresses; he gets arrogant and even his behaviour towards his close friends change. Later on he gets ruthless and he stops at nothing even to get cheap publicity by stealing a tape where Sri had unknowingly taped Arun’s confession to her in a drunken state when he had visited her last night. His arrogance and ruthlessness is brought about beautifully in two scenes-His behaviour towards his friends and when he rolls up the window of the taxi when the beggar approaches him –the same beggar whom Subho used to entertain whenever possible. He is brought down to earth when Arun decides not to produce his film and decided to scrap it. But the film world is just like that and it shows us how ruthless it si when soon after, Subho calls up Mohon Sarkar, another influential producer (who had approached him previously) and goes to meet him. End of the day, if you are not there, someone will be.Indraneil after ‘Jodi Ekdin’ is excellent again.
Nandana Sen as Srinandita is a revelation. Her character is not properly etched out though she does a brilliant role. Her world comes crashing down after she discovers that Subho has betrayed even her by literally stealing the tape from her locker and giving it to the channel to air it as a promo to get cheap publicity and decided that she has had enough from her ruthless boyfriend and so she must walk away from him. She does not even get support from her closest friends Bagha and his wife (played brilliantly by Dhruv Mukherjee and Sohini Paul) and she is shown standing at the railway station with her belongings. That scene is excellent.
The cinematography is excellent. Scenes which stand out are when Arun looks at the world from rooftop of his skyscraper and the last scene where Arun is being driven away down the highway and pigeons fly.Brilliant.The music by Debojyoti Mishra is excellent as all the songs are appropriate and become an essential part of the film.’Aamake Aamar Moto Thakte Dao’ and ‘Chal Rastay’ (various versions) stand out.
Srijit has made a brilliant debut with Autograph and signed off in style. Lights, Camera, Action the poster says. After Autograph and Moner Manush (where he is potraying Lalan Fakir directed by Goutam Ghosh), regarding Prasenjit, the superstar we wonder! HM! We wonder! A lot of people will be able to get closer to him and appreciate him after these two films. We can assure you. His performance says it all.