Shauli Chakrabarty

Film: Gorosthaane Shabdhaan
Director: Sandip Ray
Cast: Sabyasachi Chakraborty, Saheb Bhattacharya, Bibhu Bhattacharya, Dhritiman Chattopadhyay, Tinu Anand
Rating: Good

Sandip Ray’s Gorosthaane Shabdhaan is pertinent as Kolkata is fast losing out on heritage tourists with more and more people ignoring the rich history of the city that was once the capital of British India. 
What would Satyajit Ray have said if he had been witness to Kolkata’s degradation is debatable. But surely as far as his books are concerned he would expect people to give his characters their due respect. That is where Sandip Ray falters. Content advertising kills a film in more ways than one and the director’s earlier venture Kailashe Kelenkari is a classic example. The Senco Gold campaign that was forced into the script then, made people skeptical about the director’s future attempts at Feluda films. Even if such advertising has been toned down in Gorosthaane Shabdhaan it is far from subtle. It is blasphemy to make Feluda say “What an idea sirjee” — a tag line that sounds ridiculous enough when the other star son utters it. Then you have the Radio Mirchi theme song playing in the background during a run-up to one of the most crucial sequences in the film. Does Sandip Ray really need to be this tacky? Didn’t it cross his mind that such unbecoming impositions on the script would hurt — perhaps wound is the apt word — the Bengali sentiment? It is all the more jarring because very few in the industry can boast of a lineage like his.
Barring this, the film is quite watchable. Sabyasachi, like always, never disappoints. The scene where he pretends to be the spirit of Thomas Godwin and runs away with Godwin’s casket is hilarious and scary at the same time. His baritone seems to linger even after the credits start rolling. The actor has been made to wear more of kurtas than shirts, probably to camouflage his belly. We hope to see a leaner and fitter Feluda the next time around. Saheb Bhattacharya is a good listener but an average actor. The one thing that Saheb’s Topshe fails to portray is the sense of wonder that is so charactersistic of Feluda’s assistant. Bibhu Bhattacharya as Jatayu is good but no one can surpass Santosh Dutta (the original Jatayu) who made the term ‘atmaraksha’ part of the Bengali lingo. No disrespect meant, but all other Jatayus look like cheap replicas of the original. Dhritiman Chattopadhyay, on the contrary, is an institution by himself. Other than Sabyasachi he is the only one who justifies his character and makes a mark. Performances of both Tinu Anand and Dhritiman smoothen the rough edges of the film.
But it is the story and the setting that make the film most compelling. Feluda’s innumerable visits to the South Park Street Cemetry make you nostalgic and proud at the same time. The sets have been carefully put together. Feluda’s living room now has Jogen Chowdhury’s paint-sketches even if he does not have a computer at home. When Shidhu Jetha asks him to look up the internet Feluda says he cannot give up his age old habit of consulting the octogenarian when in need of information.
People opting for a Google search instead of consulting the dictionary should make a mental note!