Review of “Zombiesthaan” – Reality check of human beings in the guise of Zombie thriller
Director – Abhirup Ghosh
Cast – Tnusree Chakrabraborty, Rajatava Dutta, Rudranil Ghosh, Debolina Biswas
Director Abhirup Ghosh’s latest offering Zombiesthaan has been promoted as first Zombie thriller made in Bengali and it is true but unlike most of the zombie movies this one is not a horror thriller or horror comedy. Rather it is an attempt to focus on some relevant social issues in the guise of a Zombie thriller. If you can relate with the message then you will feel connected with it too some extent but if you are looking for an edge of the seat thriller then it will disappoint you.
The story is set in a 2030 when most of the human population on earth has turned into zombies or has been killed by zombies as an aftermath of some bio-chemical reaction. Very few survivors are left in the world and the lead protagonist of the film Akira (Tnusree) is one of them. She is a girl with fighting spirit who is not ready to surrender so easily. She believes that there is a safe zone somewhere for the VIPs manged by government and army and she will survive if she can reach to that place. The film focuses on her journey for survival. During her journey, besides facing attacks from zombies every now and then, she encounters with various types of survivors as well. Every survivor is facing the crisis situation differently, some are facing it with courage on the other hand some has surrendered to fate.
Often we consider that human race is making progress with development in different sectors but are we really stepping towards any progressive civilization or in reality we are downgrading ourselves as humans to survive in the competition? The story written by Abhirup Ghosh tries to shed some light on this ugly truth of current generation of human race. While watching the film you will be be compelled to think who is more dangerous species the zombies, the brainless creature who are driven only by hunger or the human with evil mind who are driven by the greed for power. One must give credit to Abhirup Ghosh for attempting such a refreshing and risky subject.
Despite of its good intentions, the screenplay fails to engage for most of the part. There are few reasons for that. First of all as a zombie thriller it lacks the breathtaking thrilling moments. In the opening scene when we see Akira gets attacked by a zombie it hits the right note but then after that we see similar scenes getting repeated one after another. Normally is such movies we see a group of survivors at the receiving end of some threat, so it increases the risk factor as one of them might get killed. But in Zombiesthaan, Akira is the lone survivor and we all know she has to survive to take the story forward so her encounters with the zombies has no sense of risk attached to it. The first half is slow but it has been developed quite well showing the contrasting human nature two strangers Akira and Anil (Rudranil Ghosh) dealing with the same crisis. The track ends on an interesting twist. Till this point some important message has been delivered but without saying too much. But the film looses track in the second half when Akira enters in Haridas Nagar owned by the self proclaimed king Haridas (Rajatava Dutta). In this portion the screenplay tries too hard to address several issues from religious clash to gender discrimination to women empowerment and many more. The messages have well intention but it is too much on your face leaving no room for the audience to use their brain. The set up of Haridas Nagar also looks unconvincing. It is claimed to be a kingdom but shows very few people around which is lesser in number compared to some big joint family. To show the gender discrimination in this kingdom, Abhirup Ghosh has chosen the easiest way, all the men are abusive and dominating and all the women are victim.This kind of all black and white characterization makes it unrealistic. Also the climax where we see the final face-off between the lead protagonist and the zombies lacks the punch and thrill mostly because of a poorly choreographed action sequence and less involved junior artists.
As a director Abhirup Ghosh has dared to face a big challenge with this film and he must be appreciated for this. His earnest effort to make this film look authentic within the limited resources and budget is commendable. There is minimum use of visual effects and most of the zombies has been created using make up only, make-up artist Samriddha Nag has done pretty good job here. Megh Banerjee’s background score and Ankkit Sengupta’s cinematography has helped to create a thrilling ambiance. Another good thing about Abhirup Ghosh is that he promotes many new talents in both cast and technical crew, it is a good contribution on his part to the Bengali film industry.
Among the actors, undoubtedly Tnusree has got the maximum limelight but it is not the best written character of the film as it is mostly limited to one note only. The writer has intentionally skipped to describe the past of the character to avoid any preconceived notion about her but some past experience of the character would have helped the audience to connect more with her present. Tnusree has done full justice within the limitation of the character only in the action scene in the climax she has looked over enthusiastic. Rudranil Ghosh is there for few scenes only but he is impressive in his character. Sometime we see him going over the top specially in dramatic scenes but here he has given more restrained performance. Rajatava Dutta enters in the film in second half but he has got the best written character of the film as the evil king Haridas. He has done a very good job in this negative character but for some reasons better known to the director, he has been given a feminine tone for dialogue delivery. This does not suit with the character and is very much distracting. Debilna Biswas and Jeena Tarafdar have made their presence felt in small parts.
On a whole, Zombiesthaan is a good try to combine some thought provoking messages with a thriller. The concept is refreshing and story idea is intelligent, only a better written screenplay would have helped the film to be more appealing. In spite of the short comings the team deserves applause for attempting a risky topic. It may encourage others to come out of safe zone and attempt something new.