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Monday, March 31, 2014

The Future of the Past



The last few weeks were not passed in leisure. On more than one occasion I was inclined to hunt for a job that would take me back home. My mind was all over the place. I was lonely, and upset and depressed of sorts. I don’t however think that this blog is the right forum to talk about all the crazy things that go on in my head. And when I am in one of these moods, it is only Satyajit Ray who can get me back to functioning mode. Now, all my Satyajit Ray was erased from my HD thanks to a virus that my roommate so graciously lent me. So, the next best thing that came to my mind – Bhooter Bhobishyot. It makes references to Ray, plays around with words, and most importantly takes me down the memory lane of Calcutta. 

Anik Dutta’s debut venture was an out and out success because of a perfect culmination of a lot of things. The script penned by Dutta and Deb Roy was like a fresh breath of air. The witty dialogues, complete with continuous repartee between the characters is the very soul of the film. It is very clear that Dutta likes his word games. The name – Bhooter Bhobhishyot can be broken down to two meanings – The Future of the Past or more popularly – The Future of the Ghosts.
Set in the modern day Kolkata, Dutta takes an exceptionally comic vision of the everyday life of this scintillating city. Dutta decides to take a dig at the present socio-political scenario of the city. With old mansions and houses being torn down by greedy, manipulative and often corrupt promoters to make way for high-rises, and malls, Dutta presents a unique problem to the viewers: what will happen to the ghosts who had been living in these buildings? The poor creatures have long been forgotten by the ‘living’ habitants of the city and have nowhere to go. Having no affiliation to any political party or a voice that could be hear by the media and the corporate world, their future is bleak indeed.

Dutta makes careful deliberations to his script as he showcases the history of Bengal through his characters. He efficiently exhibits the socio-political scenario of Bengal, right from the Battle of Plassey (1757), the Sepoy Mutiny (1857), the communal riots between the East and West Bengal (1940s), the Naxalite Movement (1970s), and finally to the Kargil War (1999). The narration technique is crisp, making ample use of flashbacks, especially while talking about the background of each of the supernatural characters. The cinematography by Abhik Mukhopadhya is brilliant; he aesthetically uses different tones and textures for each of the era. During the course of narration when the necessity of amalgamating the past and the present comes, Dutta does it exquisitely. As an open admirer of Satyajit Ray’s works, Dutta consciously has made several references to Ray’s works, all of which tug at the feeling of nostalgia in the hearts of all Bengali folk.

The ensemble cast gave a stellar performance. Everyone made their mark, even those bound by time constraints. Bhooter Bhobishyot with all its brilliant banter, spoofs, puns, humour, songs, and dances reminds one that Kolkata was once Calcutta.

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