Most people who have read Bengali author Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay’s works would say that his stories have always been more conversational than narrative-driven. It would therefore be interesting to see how Arindam Sil’s Aschhe Abar Shabor, based on the author’s Goenda Shabor series, would tell the story of detective Shabor Dasgupta’s latest exploits. The movie is a third in Sil’s series after the reasonably successful Ebar Shabor (2015) and Eagoler Chokh (2016).
When two young women in the city are found raped and murdered in a similar fashion, ACP Shabor Dasgupta (essayed with elan by Saswata Chatterjee) of the West Bengal Police is called to action with his two sidekicks – the goody-two-shoes Nandalal Roy (Subhrajit Dutta) and Sanjib Das (Gaurav Chakrabarty).
However, the case takes a significant turn when 20-year-old Rinku Roy (Diti Saha), a ‘bakhate’ (spoilt) daughter of divorced parents, is found murdered, exactly the same way. Rinku was known to be having an affair with her 38-year-old, nefarious neighbor Bijoy Sen (Indraneil Sengupta) – a relationship her rich businessman father, who lives in a palatial house in Chandannagore, did not approve of. Her mother, Sharon (Anjana Basu), is shown to be living in Lucknow with her husband Sujit Dutta (Mir).
The plot takes Shabor through a maze of sex, hushed-up affairs, unhealthy obsessions, unrequited love and scary superstitions, before he finally catches the killer in a usual-to-crime-thrillers plot twist.
In the first two minutes of Aschhe Abar Shabor itself, Sil draws in his audience with carefully interspersed sequences that compels the viewers to exercise their minds to figure out what is happening. The dynamics between the different characters – be it the tension between Sujit and Sharon or the age difference between Rinku and Bijoy –are all well established from the word go.
But while Sil does manage to build up a reasonable crescendo right before the interval, everything after that is sort of ‘blah’. Saswata seems as comfortable in the skin of Shabor as he is in the other two movies, and is well complemented by Subhrajit and Gaurav.
However, it looks like the screenplay did not allow him to shine as a detective who is loved because (unlike the Feludas) he’s believably and relatable-y intelligent.
Diti Saha as Rinku goes a little OTT with her daddy’s-little-princess brief and is, for the most part, quite annoying to watch and hear. Indraneil Sengupta too, while completely believable as the middle-aged man that every woman lusts for, is very wooden when it comes to his expressions.
A little into the second half and one can guess the plot, and the climax seems too drawn out and too ‘slow-mo’ for the kind of characters that Shabor and the other two detectives are established to be. A monologue by Shabor that ends the film is preachy and boring enough for people to walk out of the hall before seeing it to the finish.
What is most disappointing, however, are the most basic production and editing faults laced throughout the movie. The number of abrupt cuts and continuity errors betray Sil’s experience and makes the film seem very amateur, even to those with zero knowledge of cinematic technicalities.
Given that it is a film about cyber crime, a little more attention to detail would have enhanced it – a criticism that Sil’s earlier Shabor movies have also faced. While watching it with a fellow journalist who is also a seasoned crime reporter, the amateurish depiction of the police was probably even more glaring. In an industry that is increasingly producing well-researched, engaging crime movies, a little more investment on that front was expected from Sil. Especially since his previous movie, Dhananjoy, an adaptation of a real-life crime, was so well-thought out and nuanced.
Watch Aschhe Abar Sabor for the glimpses of Saswata’s sass and for the sake of nostalgia, if you must. Otherwise, it is quite a disappointing outing for an otherwise fabulous director.
2.5 Quints Out Of 5