Whose story it is?
Is it the story of Subal Mondal (Parambrata) and Taher Bhai (Rudrabnil Ghosh)?
Or is it the story of Kanika (Roopa Ganguly) and Sudhinda (Bimal Chakraborty)?
Or, is it the story of Tiger, bikers, brick kiln, rape, and so many things?
Or is it the story of a NRI girl Aparna (Nandana Sen)?
Or, is it the story of an old man (Soumitra Chatterjee) who lives is a two storied building with his two sons?
There are too many stories in Sekhar Das’s latest film “Kaaler Rakhal” which is based on Nilanjan Banerjee’s short story “Du Number Ashami”.
There are problems with too many things. It spoils the final product. Too many stories not only made the film 2hrs 30mins long, but at times made it little boring. Like the house where Aparna is staying during making of her Tv programme for a German Company is not that important but has been given a very long space. At least 15mins of film could have been saved if Das wanted, which I suppose would not hamper his content at all.
Actually what is the content?
The story is about how a political party, which is ruling us for last three decades, has been deviated from its ideology. Before a few decades the party leaders who were fond of poetry, songs, discussions, dialogues, democracy have become autocrats, greedy who save goons who rape, who bomb, who create terror on bikes.
To keep his content hidden much beneath, Sekhar Das keeps two young friends Subal and Taher is the forefront who are petty land-labours. When they have time they earn from either acting in “Jatras” or being “Bahurupee”. They are basically folk artists.
Sekhar has shown the pathetic condition of the village culture through these two innocent people who have become victims of the developmental policy of the rulers.
The party leaders always try to save Tiger, their local goon from all of his misdeeds like either raping the labour women or creating terror by bombing. Police is also in their hands, though they suffer from conscience bite. So they pick Subal in lien of Tiger by the order of the party leaders. Subal serves them as an alternate culprit (Du Number Ashami) and being paid by the party for his service. The decadence of the political ideology is very clearly proved.
But Kanika, the school teacher, the widow of a party worker who was murdered by Tiger as per wish of Sudhinda, knowing everything keeps a sexual relationship with Sudhin? It is not very clear and there lies the problem with Das’s screenplay. It lacks logic. Like it lacks logic why Shuva (Chandreyee Ghosh) wants Subal sexually. Is it because she is a widow? Both the widows Kanika and Shuva are working girls, they stand on their own feet, they earn their own money. So, their sexual attitudes and behaviours are not forced, they do it on their own will. This will should be logical.
The folk artists of the rural Bengal is surviving for centuries through several kind of counter attack. They have not only facing the aggression of urban culture but also the rural political violence. Still they are surviving. They have their own policy and style of counter attack.
But here we see Taher very depressed whe he come to know that the Jatra owner is bringing an urban girl n the role of Draupadi and Radha instead of him who will not only play but also deliver some sexy item dance.
Taher displays one item dance is his own style but he feels that he has lost the battle. Rural folk artists don’t lose the battle so quick. They invent other ways.
We expected similar thing with Subal also. But at the end he failed and committed suicide.
As a story this tragic incident seems very fit-in with the contemporary milieu, but as a reality this is not true. The fighting nature of the folk artists are absent in the screenplay. And for that reason both the characters Subal and Taher seem very one dimensional. Inspite of brilliant acting by both the artists they fail to get into the skin of true folk artisans.
At the end Subal meets his dead father at the sea side we find Sea-Gulls flying over the blue water. The two characters more along the sands towards the sea with flutes in their hand. This reminds us the last sequence of father and son in Buddhadev Dasgupta’s “Kaal Purush”.
Das’s scene fails to create any impression as the father-son relationship is not created that profoundly in the entire screenplay before.
Music has an important role in this film. At least dozen songs are there to create the folk ambience of the entire film. Indradeep Roy has done justice to his job as a music director.
Location: Kolkata, India
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