Review of “Purbo Poschim Dokkhin Uttor Asbei” – A refreshing subject lost in a mediocre narration
Director – Raajhorshee De
Cast – Kamaleshwar Mukherjee, Arpita Chatterjee, Paran Bandopadhyay, Rajesh Sharma, Suchandra Vaaniya, Gaurav Chakraborty, Aryann Bhowmik, Daminee Benny Basu, Rudraprasad Sengupta, Eshika Dey.
Bengal is famous for its black magic and tantra sadhana culture, but so far no Filmmaker in Bengali cinema has tried to present this subject in a full length Bengali feature film. Director Raajhorshee De, deserves credit for choosing such an experimental subject that too in a situation when his first two directorial are still unfinished. Mostly Tantra Sadhana is associated with negativity, but Raajhorshee De has tried to highlight the positive side of this practice. His intention was good but sadly he has failed to explore the subject in depth.
Purbo Poschim Dokkhin Uttor Asbei is based on the first three stories from Avik Sarkar’s best selling book “Ebong Inquisition”. Those three short stories has been connected through a common narrator (Kamaleshwar Mukherjee) and listener (Arpita Chatterjee) who are the co-passengers during a train journey from Kolkata to Vellore. The first story is about a priest Durgashankar (Rajesh Sharma) who has started practicing black magic to achieve some special powers. For this practice he is collecting dead bodies as he needs total 108 dead bodies. The second story is about a girl named Titli (Suchandra Vaaniya) who is trying to elope with her boy friend Teniya (Aryann Bhowmik), without knowing the real intentions of the guy. This story has some connection with reincarnation. The third story is a of a guy named Atin (Gaurav Chakrabarty) who accidentally brings an idol of a goddess without knowing that this goddess must be worshiped with proper knowledge of Tantra Sadhana. This mistake costs him a lot. Taking a creative liberty the script has included real life personality Krishnanand Agambagish (Paran Bandopadhyay), a celebrated expert of Tantra who never misused it. He has been included as the source of positive energy in all three stories. This inclusion has definitely helped the film to present tantra practice in a different light.
Among these three stories, the first one is very short and unorganized it takes a lot of time to establish who is the primary character and what is his purpose and once you figure out that it suddenly ends. The second story has been unnecessarily dragged with one additional song too may be to give the producer some extra screen time as she has played a key character in the story. Both the first and second story lacks the required thrill and fails to engage the audience. Specially the ending is much predictable in the second story. Only the third story has some engaging quality because the concept of tantra has been used well in this story plus the performances are very good in this story. The fourth track between the two co-passenger in the train is good except for their ending. It could have been ended little before without explaining too much in the climax scene. Audience hardly need that much spoon feeding.
As a story teller Raajhorshee De is brave enough to choose a risky subject but he needs to improve his craft. He has gathered a talented cast and crew but sitting on the director’s chair, he must know how to extract the best from them. Among the technical team cinematographer Ranjan Palit has done a superb job to create the eerie ambiance. He has been ably supported by Anirban Sengupta’s sound design along with Debojyoti Mishra’s background score.
The cast includes a lot of names and everyone has get very little screen time. In that small screen time some of the actors have succeeded to leave impression like Kamaleshwar Mukherjee, Arpita Chatterjee, Paran Bandopadhyay, Gaurav Chakrabarty, Daminee Benny Basu, Eshika Dey and Rajesh Sharma. Suchandra Vaaniya is not impressive enough although she has a meatier role. Aryann Bhowmik has tried to overdo his negative act which looks annoying. Rest of the cast members are just okay and have not done anything special.
The world of Tantra sadhana is very fascinating but Purbo Poschim Dokkhin Uttor Asbei has failed to tap that potential. The final story tries to save the film to some extent by exploring some unknown sides of these practices but by that time it is too late to grab attention.