Review of “Asur” – Fact merges with fiction to create an engaging drama
Director – Pavel
Cast – Jeet, Abir Chatterjee, Nusrat, Rajnandini, Biplab Chatterjee
Asur , directed by Pavel is a very good example of how to make a pure mainstream movie with mainstream actors but giving more priority to the content than focusing on star power of the lead cast. Although the film has three popular actors in the lead roles but undoubtedly the story and screenplay written by Pavel is the hero of the film. It has wonderfully blended a controversial true incident from recent past with an engaging emotional drama revolving around three friends. Through these three characters the film talks about the constant fight of every individual with their inner demon.
The plot revolves around three friends Kigan (Jeet), Bodhi (Abir Chatterjee) and Aditi (Nusrat). They used to be close buddies in college days but almost after a decade the equations between them has changed a lot. There are one sided love, heart breaks and a broken marriage, all these have turned Bodhi the biggest enemy of Kigan. In between this friendship cum love triangle, writer director Pavel has intelligently placed the real life controversial event related with the largest Durga idol. Although the club name has been changed for reasons better known to the makers, but it is not at all tough to figure out which incident has inspired the plot.
Pavel’s story and screenplay is very refreshing and engaging throughout. There is a good mix of humour, tragedy and drama. The flashback story of the three friends have been told intelligently during a song sequence. The screenplay is neither designed for too much intelligent viewers who hardly need any explanation, neither it is for too dumb people who asks for spoon feeding, it has maintained a good balance in between. The primary three characters are very well written and realistic. None of them is completely black or white rather all three have their own flaws still they generates empathy for themselves. Though Kigan’s bohemian nature looks exaggerating in some portions, may be a back story of this character would have helped audience to feel more connected with him.
Pavel has worked really well as both writer as well as director. He is good enough with his craft and has powerful stories to tell but never tries to present himself as an intellectual festival friendly director and that shows in his faith the mainstream actors like Jeet and Nusrat. Only he needs to be more careful with his technical teams. There are certain portions in the film that suffers for the shortcomings of technical departments. The most prominent example of that is the poor quality visual effects in the climax that has almost ruined the emotionally charged scene. The Durga idol that has been shown in the film lacks the required awe-inspiring quality. The production design team could have worked better and they already have the real life reference material to look out for. The action and stunt coordinators also need improvement in their work. The stampede scene has been shot in a very amateurish way and the action sequence featuring Kigan fighting with a gang of goons is completely out of the sync from the rest of the film. For most of the part Somnath Kundu’s make up and styling for Jeet is convincing and maintains continuity but in one sequence where Kigan roams around Puja pandals he sports completely different hairstyle. Probably this scene was shot separately before deciding the final look for the character, but this type of discontinuity is least expected from such an efficient film maker. Although there is one department where Pavel never goes wrong and that is music. He really has a commendable sense of music and he knows very well how to use it in the narrative. Choosing Bickram Ghosh for doing the music and background score is a wise decision. His fusion style music has worked really well with the narrative style of the film. Guest composer Amit Mitra has also done impressive work.
After the story, the biggest strength of the film is its performances. For a long time Jeet was looking for a film that will help him to come out of his super star image and challenge him as an actor, with Asur his search has finally ended. It must have been strange to consider Jeet for Kigan which is completely different from his on screen image, but he has has worked really hard to transform himself completely to fit into the shoes of the bohemian artist who is obsessed with his art form. Abir has given equally brilliant performance in a character with shades of grey. Earlier also he has tried his hands with grey characters but it is so far the best from him. He has wonderfully captured the inner pain of his character Bodhi who is suffering from the agony of being defeated throughout his life by the persons very close to him. Nusrat rarely gets and opportunity to play performance oriented characters as most of the time she has been used to add glamour only in cinemas. But whenever she has got a chance she has tried her best. She has done the same in Asur as well and succeeded to some extent. But as an actor she is not mature enough to handle the complex character of Aditi who appears very easy going from outside but going through an emotional turmoil inside. No one in the supporting cast has been given enough scope to shine, but still Rajnandini holds attention in her silent yet expressive performance as the fictional muse of Kigan. It is sad even after making a confident debut with Uronchondi, the girl is yet to get a proper full length character. Kaushik Kar is impressive in a one scene appearance.
Overall, Asur shows that mainstream Bengali cinema is not just meant to be remakes, it can provide way better entertainment with original story ideas as well that too rooted with traditional Bangaliyana. It definitely deserves to be watched for its engaging story and strong performances specially by the two leading man Jeet and Abir Chatterjee.