Mon… Mon er bhetor mon…. Tar o gobhire mon…..
In Binisutoy : Without Strings, filmmaker Atanu Ghosh is interested in exploring these buried complexities of the lonely heart of two complicated individuals, and takes us on a journey along with them where we start identifying with their privileges, eccentricities, their crisis and their escape routes to win the tricky games of life.
Kajal (Ritwick Chakroborty) and Sraboni (Jaya Ahsan) chance meet each other on the sets of a reality TV show, and we start getting to know them when they tell their intro stories about what they would do if they suddenly win the fifty lakh rupees prize money of the show. The day then takes them on a journey together and they listen to each other with empathy and intrigue when the other one narrates about the personal crisis their lives seem to be going through (of broken vases, lost money and irritable kids and partners) and also showing the intent of trying to come up with suggestions to help each other. As ordinary as they may appear, they seem to be united by having a well defined game plan of how to fix their ongoing troubles and find some quick resolutions in life. For their backgrounds that they reflect back upon to each other, they seem to be resolute and clear about why have they come for the auditions of a reality show, possibly seeking common escapes, trying to collide with the propagated worlds of fake reality of all such shows and aligning their stories to the context. We get more and more intrigued by their fuzzy personalities, and by the time they part as confidantes asking the question to each other if their story would go any further from that day, we are equally interested to know more. It is the ideal springboard to catapult them to a journey of star crossed lovers. But Atanu Ghosh is not interested in telling that story. What happens next is a refreshing experience that is not to be missed and should be savored in its full cinematic glory.
Atanu Ghosh is a seasoned storyteller as we already know through his filmography, and Binisutoy will arguably sit as the top showcase of his where he weaves an intricately complex story about how individuals like me and you continually seek something more exciting than the ordinary drudgery of everyday lives and sometimes have the courage, creativity and spontaneity to execute it. In one life, we are on a journey to live multiple lives, whether it is through the various relationship compartments that we create for ourselves, our distinctive online and offline personas at times, or our ambitious ways to shape our creativity to something more concrete and tangible. Kajal and Sraboni are no different. They seek an escape from their dark and mundane lives, possibly tired of their routine jobs, and hence are constantly looking to add new interesting chapters to their stories, adding souvenirs to the memory boxes from each of the experiences gathered (sometimes tangible like a pen or a handkerchief, sometimes just a song or a precious memory created with a stranger or an acquaintance). They also pick up cues from these experiences of life and use them to connect the dots in the next one that they embark on. Hence a broken flower vase and an unhappy related memory from one chapter of their life becomes a soothing gift in the next trying to spread sunshine in some brooding lives. Or a passionate photographer does not think twice to use his camera as the prop to fill a lacuna in his aspirations when life suddenly creates a gaping hole in his pocket in one of his stories.
The brilliance of Binisutoy lies in the fact that Atanu Ghosh has sprinkled his narrative with a myriad of sparkling moments, hints and cues, some hidden, some apparent, and some in your face, but they all work. At times, he innocently poses back the question to life asking “Taar maane mithye ta theke jaabe du jon er moddhe?“, while at other times he very openly declares that it is only a great story that we always look forward to at all times to keep going. “Jiban e jakhon galpo thake na takhon amra nije rai galpo baniye feli” he says indicating the dualities that we all live with, the charades that we all weave from time to time. Ghosh and his film is on a journey of the soul to seek solace and companionship with no strings attached, and wants to travel from one experience to another seamlessly just like a free spirited soul. “Atmar mrityu o nei janmo o nei” he reiterates, and Kajal and Sraboni want their stories to similarly breathe freely in such endless expanses. Atanu Ghosh further spruces up their journey by subtly seeding in some smart props here and there along his narration, whether it is a casual “Aaj tera din hain” t-shirt in one shot instilling hope, or a volume of Mahasweta Debi’s Sreshtho Galpo suddenly out of focus in another casual frame. In yet another particular sequence, the central theme of the film is directly underlined for access through a blog post headlined “The unbearable loneliness of the privileged lives“. At times, there is a direct ode to the power of imagination and to the favourite things in life whether the dogs bite or the bees sting; and at other times Atanu Ghosh pays a very subtle homage to perhaps the greatest film of Tapan Sinha (no prizes for guessing the name) highlighting the power of great stories in our lives – lives where our truths can be far stranger than fiction!
The brilliant casting of Ritwick Chakroborty and Jaya Ahsan in the pivotal roles only accentuates the authenticity of the eerie world that Binisotoy represents. Its not easy to portray characters who are delayering their own individual selves along with the audience all through the film, chasing their own shadows, trying to find semblance and footing in the multiple lives they live. Such tricky character arcs definitely needed very seasoned players to enact those complexities. Ritwick Chakroborty especially is the show stealer, and his natural, understated charm makes it so easy to decode even the most complex characters on screen without needing any other crutches of altered projected personas. His scenes with Samontok Dyuti Maitra (Kaahon, what an apt name there!) especially ooze warmth, as do his scenes when he is trying to explore the intricate fallacies of his and Sraboni’s individual and entangled narratives. Jaya Ahsan is very good as well, and her transformed persona from her initial outing in the reality show to the actual reality of her life adds a certain magnetism to Sraboni that stays on. A special mention here for the stylist and costume designer for Jaya who seamlessly blend in the necessary props to further highlight that transformation. The rest of the cast is appropriately supportive as well and do not break the rhythm of the story, other than a scene or two here and there that feels out of place (the scene of an unnecessary cacophonic brawl between a set of drunken friends of Kajal, or a completely add on track of a lost unsuccessful cousin of Sraboni as an example). The cinematography adds to the eerie lyricism of the overall storyline, the editing is mostly sharp as all great stories demand, and the background score and the couple of songs partially used add a beautiful poetic nuance to the narration. Mon and Ei to besh achhi haunt you in uncanny ways especially.
There’s an important scene in Binisutoy that seeks a much needed closure through “Galpo-r o ekta equation aar parameter haye.. shuru, majh, sesh.. seita apni asweekar korte paren na..” That’s the voice of Atanu Ghosh seeking validation from his audience about the strange equations he successfully develops with Kajal and Sraboni through a controlled narrative structure in his beautiful little film. That he never lets the film slip into the zones of predictability only adds further to how well he manages to tell that story. At another time, he declares “Aage loke ghar gochhato, almari gochhato.. ekhon jiban gochachhe shobai..”. Just that the strangeness of that life can be so individual and so distinct, that our ways to find our own rhythm, our own gochhano sur in it can be very very unique. At the same time, the voids of our solitude, the hollows of our privileges can be so universal that we can all identify with the common eccentric ecstasies of those individual rhythms. Binisutoy is a celebration of those ecstatic eccentricities that want to break free off the shackles of the ordinary and find new wings to fly in the dreamy blue skies of life, adding vibrance and spark to its individual layers.
Thank you, Atanu Ghosh and Team for this refreshingly beautiful experience. It was sort of tricky to talk about the film without giving away too much, and that is also because how unique and intriguing this film is that demands that its novelty be preserved for the viewers pleasure as they experience it themselves.
Binisutoy has been playing for a few weeks in Nandan and Nazrul Tirtha in Kolkata now and has been getting a great response. Cheers to the audience! Cheers to the return of good cinema to the theatres.
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