Srijit Mukherji has been the most prolific filmmaker for Bengali cinema in the last one decade. He is also the one who has possibly the most loyal fan base at one end, and the harshest critics of his work on the other. The filmmaker, who started his journey with the intent to make one film with each letter of the English alphabet, made his first film in 2010, and has already made fourteen films in his last ten years of active filmmaking. He will add a couple more to his filmography by the end of this year, and there are at least three more active projects already lined up for next year too.
You can call him a film-making factory, you can call him the hyper active filmmaker, but you cannot not acknowledge that he has emerged as the most commercially successful brand of bengali cinema in the last decade, and his are the only films that always manage to get a decent national and international release in parallel with a widespread regional release. There are the six national awards shared between two of his films, along with many other festival circuit accolades for other films, that is a testimony to his share of critical acclaim as well. And many of his films have been heavily panned too, and rightfully so. His filmography after all has been a mixed bag with some bad, a few good, and a couple of excellent films. Here is a comprehensive analysis of his films, ranked in order of their cinematic excellence and overall impact, and we also call out some of the standout performances from those films.
14. YETI OBHIJAAN (2017)
Yeti Obhijaan has to be the weakest film of Srijit Mukherji’s entire filmography where practically nothing worked. The treatment was plastic, and the overall experience was unintentionally funny rather than being thrilling. It was painful to watch the world of a favorite childhood hero in Kakababu crumble down like this.
- Stand-out performance – None
- Memorable song – None
13. BEGUM JAAN (2017)
2017 tuned out to be the worst year for Mukherji in his entire career with two back to back duds. The thought of remaking Rajkahini in Hindi into Begum Jaan was a blunder from the word go. Whether it was the influence of the production house or something else, the film went on a hamming overdrive with everything, and even Vidya Balan ended up with one of her weakest films. Rajkahini had its own goosebump moments in spite of the flaws, but this film only derived the flaws from the same.
- Stand-out performance – None
- Memorable song – Prem me tohre. Also the film should never have attempted to recreate the classic – Woh subah kabhi to aayegi
12. NIRBAAK (2015)
Nirbaak is possibly the most metaphorical film of Srijit Mukherji’s filmography. It is an excellent idea about exploring the different forms of love that can exist between living and not so living beings, but the end result gets heavily bogged down by an execution that tries too hard to be different and stand out. Sushmita Sen looks like a dream as always, and we really wished that a film featuring her ended up being far more memorable. The film can boast of one of the most creative posters and title card in a bengali film though.
- Stand-out performance – Ritwick Chakraborty
- Memorable song – Jodi akaasher gaaye
11. ZULFIQAR (2016)
Zulfiqar was a sensational casting coup of sorts. It lined up the largest names of the industry in this gangster drama as a true ensemble. The film adapted itself to the regional milieu trying to fit itself in as the mass commercial entertainer, after being based on two of William Shakespeare’s tragedies: Julius Caesar & Antony and Cleopatra. The canvas was large, the stakes were high, the film-making tried to go glam and jazzy, and in the process prioritized style over substance. A darker and a grittier treatment could have made this one a really good film.
- Stand-out performance – Dev, Parambrata Chatterjee
- Memorable song – Ghawrbaari
10. MISHAWR RAWHOSHYO (2013)
Mishawr Rawhoshyo was the inception of the Kakababu Santu franchise, and wasn’t particularly a very thrilling experience. It was a new horizon for bengali cinema to take its story-telling to Egypt, but in all honesty, Prosenjit Chattopadhyay is not the right fit for playing Kakababu, and Santu’s writing is a bit too over-smart and irritating. The film did give us an interesting antagonist though, the one with the purpose. It did have an excellent soundtrack as well.
- Stand-out performance – Swastika Mukherjee, Indraneil Sengupta
- Memorable song – Dilli, Aaro ektu dur, Balir shahor
09. HEMLOCK SOCIETY (2012)
Hemlock Society is a smartly written dark comedy that questions the dilemmas about basic existentialism, and finding the purpose of life. The society that recruits suicide aspirants, basically turns itself on the head and wants to inspire life into all dejected souls around. In spite of the interesting subject at hand, the film loses its grip in developing some of its supporting characters, turning them to caricatures and diluting the impact. A better execution could have made it into one of the best films of Srijit Mukherji.
- Stand-out performance – Parambrata Chatterjee
- Memorable song – Ekhon anek raat
08. UMA (2018)
With Uma, Srijit Mukherji tried to tell a story around a child for the first time, and went on to cast real life father daughter duo of Jisshu and little Sara Sengupta to create the impact. Borrowing from a real life incident, and adapting it to the premise of quintessential Durga Pujo of Kolkata, Uma had the perfect context of becoming a beautiful heartfelt experience if we buy in to its fantastical aspirational world. But an overly dramatic treatment and some weak performances by Jisshu Sengupta, Anirban Bhattacharya and others robbed some soul out of it. It was still a better film than some of Mukherji’s other immediate ventures before this and was sort of an turning point for the filmmaker to return to good storytelling. Uma had an excellent overall soundtrack.
- Stand-out performance – Anjan Dutt, Rudranil Ghosh, Sara Sengupta
- Memorable song – Jaago jaago Uma, Esho bandhu, Aaloshyo
The Complete Review : UMA Review : Lacks Soul
07. RAJKAHINI (2015)
Rajkahini was an intense partition drama about the price paid for independence that came wrapped up in a bloody, gruesome and monstrous partition, leaving the commoner abused like hell. It wasn’t a perfect film, with some forced high points in drama and an exaggerated performance especially by Rituparna Sengupta, but the film also had its fair share of intense goose-bump moments, and stays back as a deeply disturbing watch, that had pain and suffering in its core.
- Stand-out performance – Jisshu Sengupta, Rudranil Ghosh, Jaya Ahsan, Kaushik Sen
- Memorable song – Bharato bhagyo bidhata
06. BAISHE SRABON (2011)
Baishe Srabon is a dark twisty tail of serial killing adapted to a very local context of murders associated with couplets from famous bengali poets. It is also a cop story about a good cop and a bad cop coming together to see through the complex web of serial killings. The film was refreshingly dark in the context of bengali films, and in spite of the predictable twist, doesn’t lose its grip in general. The flowery and abusive language doesn’t go down too well though, and a forced romantic subplot takes some sheen off from the overall experience.
- Stand-out performance – Gautam Ghose, Prosenjit Chattopadhyay
- Memorable song – Gobhire jao, Je kota din
05. EK JE CHHILO RAJA (2018)
With Ek Je Chhilo Raja, it was a true homecoming of sorts for Srijit Mukherji back to the art of great filmmaking. Based on the famous Bhawal Sanyasi case, this was an excellent period drama for the most part, and though the court room act could have been far more tighter without some distracting subplots and forced messaging, the grandeur of the period and the soul of the film remained intact due to excellent collaboration of multiple technical teams on the film to capture the essence of the story. Aided by some fine performances (other than a few derailments like Aparna Sen), and an excellent soundtrack, Ek Je Chhilo Raja emerged as one of the most commercially successful & critically acclaimed films of the year.
- Stand-out performance – Jisshu Sengupta, Jaya Ahsan, Anjan Dutt
- Memorable song – Esho he, Maharajo, Tu dikhe na
The Complete Review : EK JE CHHILO RAJA Review : The King is Reborn
04. AUTOGRAPH (2010)
They say that the first films of prolific filmmakers are always special, and Autograph is no different. Srijit Mukherji showed the audacity to put a fresh spin to Satyajit Ray’s iconic film Nayak in his debut, thankfully made a very different film to kill comparisons, and packaged it pretty well to create lasting impressions. The craft of Mukherji’s filmmaking might have improved with his successive films, but he got the heart of the story, and the swagger of a modern day superstar right in this one, and then blended in an endearing love story into it quite nicely. Autograph also sort of revolutionized the music scene of bangla films, and had a fresh hummable soundtrack to offer.
- Stand-out performance – Prosenjit Chattopadhyay, Indraneil Sengupta
- Memorable song – Benche thakar gaan, Chal rastaye, Uthchhe jege sakalgulo
03. CHOTUSHKONE (2014)
Chotushkone has to be the smartest film of Srijit Mukherji’s filmography. Borrowing from the anthology film format, this was a story of four famous filmmakers coming together to collaborate on a series of shorts, with the intense dynamics between them playing out in the sub-layered fabric of the film. Mukherji’s ode to multiple iconic filmmakers / movies through this engaging screenplay was subtle and yet powerful, and he brings it all brilliantly together in the final act. All the four shorts within the film don’t have equally strong legs, but they don’t make the film limp in its overall impact. On a side note, one keeps wondering how brilliant the film would have become with its originally visualized star cast. And yes, yet another film with an excellent soundtrack.
- Stand-out performance – Kaushik Ganguly, Parambrata Chatterjee
- Memorable song – Setai sottyi, Basanto eshe gechhe, Chirosakha he, Boba tunnel
02. SHAH JAHAN REGENCY (2019)
Shah Jahan Regency is a very special film. Adapting from the iconic Chowringhee and moving the story to a modern day contemporary Kolkata setting, Srijit Mukherji made one of his most aesthetically nuanced and honest films with this one. And we experienced life intimately in its various shades of joy, pain, commitment, deceit, love and loss, laughing and choking along the way. In spirit closer to the book that the first film adaptation of the same story, the film beautifully traversed through a plethora of emotions and provided a truly immersive experience. In spite of starting on a bumpy note with an couple of shaky chapters initially, the film makes an extremely strong comeback and eventually leaves you in a cathartic trance, deeply moved by the melancholy that is life. A beautiful experience this.
- Stand-out performance – Swastika Mukherjee, Parambrata Chatterjee, Rituparna Sengupta, Abir Chatterjee
- Memorable song – Kichhu chayi ni aami, Bolo na Radhika, Jakhon porbe na
The Complete Review : SHAH JAHAN REGENCY Review : Check In to Life!
01. JAATISHWAR (2014)
Jaatishwar is an extremely fine film, almost flawless. With Prosenjit Chattopadhyay delivering his career best performance in a very challenging role, this fresh new take on Anthony Firingee was a poetic experience in the true sense. Each frame of the film told an intense story of love & passion, with a terrific screenplay running on two parallel timelines, and everything perfectly coming together with a seamless smooth editing, an outstanding soundtrack, brilliant recreation of parallel periods, and deeply intense performances. Jaatishwar totally deserved the four national awards it won, along with multiple other accolades, and one discovers a little something new and deep with every repetitive viewing of the film. It is a classic, for sure!
- Stand-out performance – Prosenjit Chattopadhyay, Swastika Mukherjee, Jisshu Sengupta
- Memorable song – Jatishwar, E tumi kemon tumi, Khudar kasam jaan, Phanka frame, Jai jogendra
Looking Back : Jaatishwar – Five years of love!
As this list keeps expanding over the next few years, we will revisit the ranked list and see where they individually land up. We hope that we continue to see the revamped trend of making good memorable films as we have seen from the last couple of films of Srijit Mukherji. He has showed us that he can, when he stays honest to his storytelling.
Other than a couple of films, the entire filmography of Srijit Mukherji is available on the HoiChoi digital platform. Begum Jaan is available on Amazon Prime Video, and the digital release of Shah Jahan Regency is awaited.
Copyright ©2019 Jayashree Chakravarti. This article cannot be reproduced in its entirety without permission. A link to this URL can be used instead.