If we were to connect the dots, recent Bengali releases have had a streak of commonality in the making of films Chhayamoy, Gosainbaganer Bhoot, Goynar Baksho and the likes of Ashchorjyo Prodeep. Writer Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay’s stories about fantasies and the unnatural have found a prominent voice through the medium of cinema which even travels to non-Bengali audiences hopping the language barrier. For enthusiasts deprived of the culturally rich texts from Bengal, movie makers like Anik Dutta are keen to adapt stories and maintain authenticity more than ever before.
Ashchorjyo Prodeep is based on the lines of Aladin and his experiences with the magic lamp; the genie from which is the reason for an unexpected metamorphosis in the life of Anilabha Gupta. Saswata Chatterjee popularly recognized as Bob Biswas to his Bollywood fans returns in the role of a salesman in a condom manufacturing company; pairing again with director Anik Dutta after the hugely successful Bhooter Bhabishyat. However, like in the original story the genie’s presence is vital; Rajatava Dutta as Prodeep Dutta/Deepak Das is a show stellar. His bald look and comic timing makes the character more relatable and undoubtedly lends charm. Anilabha Gupta’s family dreams of living bigger and better. Even after trying his luck repeatedly at the lottery, nothing strikes until he accidentally finds the mysterious lamp; one that belonged to the riches who lend antiques for film productions.
The film is targeted to entertain a large audience unlike most of Tollywood films that weave Rabindra Sangeet into the narration, often forcefully. However the editing goes for a toss. The screenplay has unnecessary scenes where Anilabha is battered with verbal blows from his wife for not being able to make their life as materialistic as her sisters’. Sreelekha Mitra as Mrs. Gupta is seen complaining throughout the film and has nothing much left for her to do. All of us have our little secrets that we happen to know and fancy. Saswata’s character is no different. There are instances in the film which are genuinely funny when he reacts to a new poster or a commercial of the skimpily dressed sensational film star Mala played by Mumtaz Sorcar.
The music of Ashchorjyo Prodeep plays unnoticed. The good news is that, there aren’t many songs in the film which permits the viewer to focus on the story. Like Bhooter Bhabishyat, Anik Dutta’s second film too emerges a winner because of its excellently well written dialogues. They often rhyme and when they don’t, they take de-tour to add punch.
The remainder of this entertainer is about the experiences of the human-genie duo over a period of one day which speedily reaches a climax that leaves Anilabha heartbroken and reveals secrets that would be under wraps if it were not for the Ashchorjyo Prodeep. Dutta’s direction is new school and maintains balance between fact and fiction. For an audience that wishes for a laugh riot, subtle story and remarkable performances all in 120 minutes, the genie from Ashchorjyo Prodeep smiles back ‘Hukum Mere Aka’.
By Soham Bhattacharyya