Bisorgo movie review: An ambitious, tongue-in-cheek satire on the unfulfilling life of artists

Bhaskar Chattopadhyay

November 18, 2018 16:06:57 IST

2/5

Director Arunava Khasnobis’ second feature film Bisorgo is a tongue-in-cheek satire, and a scathing commentary on the impoverished and unfulfilling life of artists around the world. Told over the period of one night, it is a hyperlinking tale of the interactions among several oddballs on the streets of Kolkata – each with an agenda of his or her own. Scratch a little deeper though, and you will find that they are not really who they seem.

A still from Bisorgo. YouTube screengrab

A still from Bisorgo. YouTube screengrab

The film opens in the middle of the night, with an artist named Biswa trying to take his own life. He is stopped from doing so by a man named Darshan, who explains to him that for the survival of humanity, the survival of artists is imperative. In some other corner of the city, we see a cantankerous middle-aged know-it-all, who introduces himself as Ishwar. He seems rather cross with a decked-up prostitute named Shanti sitting at a distance, demanding to know why she hadn’t managed to get enough customers for the night. Shanti, in turn, tries to explain her limitations and seeking some relief. Thrown into this mix is the fifth and final character – an out-of-town bumpkin of sorts named Satya, who is looking for an address that no one seems to direct him to. As the film progresses, we soon realise that the characters are all personifications of cosmic elements. So, there’s Biswa, the artist, who stands for the earth – our world. He’s fed up of being mistreated and wants to self-destruct. Stopping him from doing so is Darshan, who is a personification of Philosophy. He keeps whispering words of hope into Biswa’s ears, encouraging him to distance himself from negative thoughts. On similar lines, Ishwar stands for God himself, Shanti for peace, and finally, Satya for truth. Each of them are performing a task throughout the night, and none of them are content.

While the film does boast some good performances, I must admit that it came across a bit too indulgent and heavy handed for my comfort. I do not mind experimentation with the medium, and I am all for innovative forms of storytelling. Some of the great masters of cinema have all tried their hands with fresh new ideas, pushing the boundaries of our current and limited understanding of what cinema stands for. It is their choice and they ought to do it. Unfortunately, though, Khashnobis seems to take too many liberties with this choice, and what is left behind for us is an array of confusion, way too many repetitions of the same message, and a rather frustrating and underwhelming cinematic experience. After watching the film, I asked myself a simple question multiple times – what worked for me in the film? What could I salvage? Sadly, other than the performances – more theatrical than cinematic as they may be – there was very little I could take away from the film.

Among the performances, Debranjan Nag stands out the most. His irritated, impatient and frustrated version of the omniscient and omnipresent is a rather sarcastic take on the very notion of God, and by corollary – that on religion. I liked watching him on screen, and more than what he was trying to convey and what he stood for, I was simply enjoying him as an actor. Following closely on his heels is Prasun Gayen, as Darshan – the lozenge seller whose hidden agenda is to save hopeless artists from committing suicide. A noble cause, no doubt, and Gayen is as expressive as they come. Nitish Biswas is top-notch as Satya – his confusion and anxiety are real, as the poor fellow is exhausted out of his wits looking for an unreachable address. Biswajit Ghosh and Manali Chakravarty plays their parts well as Biswa and Shanti respectively. But what’s really tragic is that despite the best efforts of all these actors, the film simply does not hold.

Shot extensively on the streets of Kolkata, with available (street) light in the middle of the night, several technical experiments have been conducted with the camera, background music and sound design. My biggest complaint of all such efforts is that the artistic outcome of it all is merely in the filmmaker’s head. It just doesn’t seem to come across and reach out to the average member of the audience. It certainly didn’t work for me. It is possible that the director has perhaps tried to be too ambitious in pushing the limits of our understanding, sacrificing that one important element of cinema in the process – the storytelling. I am going with one star for his courage, and another for the performances in the film.

Updated Date: Nov 19, 2018 16:58 PM