Review of the movie “Dhananjoy”

Director – Arindam Sil

Cast – Anirban Bhattacharya, Mimi Chakraborty, Kaushik Sen, Sudipta Chakraborty, Paran Bandopadhyay, Mir, Kanchan, Arjaa Banerjee

Overall Rating – 4/5

In 2004 Dhananjoy Chatterjee was a popular name mostly for wrong reasons as he was given capital punishment for the charges of rape and murder of an 18 year old girl. Media did a dramatic coverage of the story, mostly common men were happy that a criminal has given appropriate punishment. Then gradually the incident faded away from our memory as new crime stories and scandals make space in our mind thanks to the media around us. Today’s truth is we are actually blind folded with media’s illusion, we believe what they say and assumes it as a complete truth, obviously we don’t have enough time and scope to go in detail and look for other side of the story. But sadly in Dhananjay’s case not only the common people rather law and order was also blind folded by media. They also not bother to cross check all the aspects of the incident and as a result a poor man got an extreme punishment for a crime which most probably he had not done at all.

We should always be thankful to director Arindam Sil and his team for trying to show us the other side of the story too. It is true after so long time , it is not possible for them to bring the whole truth and some theories there are just an assumption but after watching the film one cannot deny there was an inconsistency in the evidences which were used to prove Dhananjoy guilty. All the statements of witnesses and the circumstantial evidences were manipulated several times which clearly indicates that Dhananjoy Chatterjee was framed to be the culprit to cover up some other dark truth. One can think why we need to bother about all this as it is past now and the answer will be no matter if it is a past, no matter if nothing can be undone now but if the man was innocent then he has the right to get justice even after his death as “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”.

The film is a wonderful mix of fact and fiction. It begins with a lawyer Kavya Sinha (Mimi Chakraborty) who co-incidentally meets Chandra (Arjaa Banerjee), widow of Dhananjoy Chatterjee, during a NGO activity. Chandra is mentally unstable but deep in her mind somewhere she has strong belief that her husband was innocent which convinces Kavya to take interest in this case. Doing further investigation she founds lots of weak links in the evidences and statements of witnesses which were strong enough to give a benefit of doubt to Dhananjoy. She discusses all these with her senior lawyer Shivraj Chaudhury (Kaushik Sen) and together they decide to reopen the case to give justice to Dhananjoy even after his death. The first half tells the story from 1990 to 2004 and it exactly narrates the story what most of us already know. In Kolkata’s Bhowanipore are an 18 year old school girl Hema (name changed here) (Anusuya Vishwananthan) was raped and murdered when she was all alone at her flat. She was found dead by her mother Surabhi Parekh (Sudipta Chakraborty).There were some witness in the housing who had seen Dhanajoy  Chatterjee (Anirban Bhattacharya) , the security guard of that housing complex, going to that flat in that time so he was the only suspect.  He tried to hide for some months but later got arrested from his house in his village in Bankura district. A long court hearing goes on for almost 14 years at different level of courts from Sessions Court to High Court of Kolkata to Supreme Court. Throughout the court hearing Dhananjoy kept saying he is innocent but failed to prove it and finally he was sentenced to be hanged till death based on the circumstantial evidences against him. Even his family’s attempt to plea to the President of India was rejected as it was found to be a rarest of rare case. Finally he was hanged on 14th August 2004. The second half shows the main story for which the audiences are actually looking for the court processing to re-open the case where Kavya and Shivraj presents their arguments to prove Dhananjoy innocent and they also gives hint of what might have actually happened with the girl.

Here one must say it is one risky and brave concept as it is challenging the verdict of three courts so the team should be prepared with solid evidences and the good news is that the team is really well prepared to prove their point. The way the arguments have been placed it shows the extensive research work done by the team. One must give credit to Arindam Sil and Padmanabha Dasgupta for such a wonderful screenplay. In spite of documenting few facts only, it never looks like a boring documentary ever. The first half is just a recap of some facts already known to us but the way it has been presented in flashbacks going back and forth in past and present makes it interesting to watch. The second half is bold, brave and full of energy which will keep you glued to your seats and of course the climax is thought provoking. It raises some hard hitting questions which will compel l us to think. Does the media really lost their sensibility to remain ahead in completion? Don’t the poor men have right for justice? Do we come to any conclusion just seeing one side of a story?

As a director Arindam Sil is already a successful name in today’s Bengali film industry. He has given back to back five hits, but here he has decided to challenge himself to do something risky and we salute him for making his bravest film so far. In Bengali cinema there is hardly any film maker who attempt to make a film based on true events, all wants to play safe and avoid controversy but Arindam Sil has shown the guts to challenge the verdict of Supreme Court that too with strong evidences. Yes he has changed the names of individuals and places but that is just to avoid legal controversies which can be accepted. He has wonderfully recreated all the incidents keeping the timeframe in mind. Also he is brilliant to show the gap between the two different worlds in our society, one of the rich people who have the authorities and the other one of the poor people who are mostly victimised.

Another thing which makes the film a wonderful watch is the finest performances from the whole cast. Anirban Bhattachrya is just extra ordinary as Dhananjoy. He has given life to the innocence of the character through his marvellous expressions. From the dialect of Bankura to the body language everything is just perfect. Not for a single moment you can think that an actor is playing the character rather it seems we are actually watching Dhananjoy Chatterjee. It is one of the finest performances of Bengali cinema by any actor. Kaushik Sen is always a good actor and he has got a good scope in a well written character of Lawyer Shivraj, he has done full justice with his character. Mimi Chakraborty who is better known for her performances in commercial mainstream cinema has done a superb work here. It seems she was eagerly waiting for a powerful character and when she gets the chance she has given her 100% to it. It is no doubt her career best performance so far. Together Kaushik Sen and Mimi Chakraborty have shown a nice chemistry as mentor and protégée.

Among the supporting cast Sudipta Chakraborty is effective as the victim girl’s mother. Her Gujrati dialect is perfect. She is awesome in a scene where she emotionally outburst to her daughter. Paran Bandopadhyay is excellent as Dhananjoy’s father. Arjaa Banerjee is too good as Dhananjoy’s wife Chandra. Her haunting eyes say a lot without much dialogue. Mir and Kanchan Mallik both known as comic actors, have done superb job as serious lawyers. It is refreshing to see them doing something different.

Apart from them each and every actor who is there for even 2 min has given good performances, whether it is the investigating officers or the witnesses.

Technical team is also in solid form. The production designer and costumes designer have worked hard to create two exactly opposite world of the rich and poor people in our society.  Sujay Dutta Roy is effective with his editing. Soumik Halder has proved his genius with his camera one more time. Bickram Ghosh’s background score has given every frame the required emotional high.

Finally it can be said no matter if the case can be reopened in real or not, no matter if anything can be proved now or not, but some stories need to be told and it is one such story. Some movies deserve to be watched, it is one such movie. Do not miss it.

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