Guptodhoner Sandhane movie review: Dhrubo Banerjee takes us on a joyride of a treasure hunt
Drawing heavily from Satyajit Ray’s Feluda stories and the adventures of Indiana Jones, Dhrubo Banerjee’s new treasure hunt adventure flick has all the ingredients required to become a crowd pleaser, which it is
Drawing heavily from Satyajit Ray’s Feluda stories and the adventures of Indiana Jones, Dhrubo Banerjee’s new treasure hunt adventure flick has all the ingredients required to become a crowd pleaser, which it is. Banerjee knows his audience’s psyche like the back of his hand, and he plays on their likes and dislikes, taking them along on a rollercoaster ride that makes no pretence of being intelligent and is pure unabashed fun instead.
Banerjee’s protagonist is a half-Feluda-half-Indiana-Jones like character named Subarna Sen (fondly referred to as Sona Da) who is a professor of History at Oxford University. When he returns to India, Sona Da meets Abir, his nephew. Abir takes Sona Da to their ancestral home in the village of Manikantapur, where Abir’s eccentric but erudite maternal uncle (Goutam Ghose, in a lovely little cameo) has recently passed away under mysterious circumstances.
When they reach the village, Sona Da and Abir learn of a rural lore that talks about a 350-year-old Mughal treasure hidden somewhere in the ancestral palace where the erstwhile zamindars lived. Abir’s eccentric maternal uncle was the last in line of the zamindar dynasty and he has left a clue in his diary that would help Abir locate the treasure. With the help of Sona Da’s razor sharp wit, the bumbling Abir and his love interest — the beautiful Jhinuk — embark upon a dangerous quest for the hidden treasure, even as a local goon, a descendant of the ministers of the zamindars tries to race them to the finish.
The best thing about the film is its simplicity. The makers do not have any illusions of grandeur, they know exactly the kind of film they are making, they know their audiences in and out and they customise their offering accordingly. There are liberal doses of comedy, most of which comes from the protagonist’s sidekick. There’s also some serious Dan Brown-meets-Satyajit Ray style puzzle solving involved, although the puzzles themselves range from being downright silly to surprisingly interesting.
Banerjee throws in a supernatural element into the plot as well, and to be fair to him, there are some really good jump scares in the film. Abir’s wooing of Jhinuk has all the makings of a typical budding middle-class Bengali romance, and although the antagonist’s ‘evil’ smile is a bit too Mark Hamill for my taste, I was surprised to find myself letting go of my love for logic and submitting to the thrilling ride. More than anything else, the beautiful sights, sounds and essences of rural Bengal won my heart and kept me invested in the film.
This, however, does not mean that the film is without its flaws. While its simplicity may be its biggest strength, the film does end up oversimplifying things quite a bit. It is not, what one may call, a particularly intelligent film — and with a film that almost solely depends on solving puzzles and clues to get to a treasure, that’s a problem you cannot overlook. In several scenes, the actors end up merely mouthing dialogues and then waiting for the other person to speak, before they can go back to mouthing dialogues in response once again. It is this absolute lack of naturality that makes the conversations seem rather immature and unbelievable.
Popular actor Abir Chatterjee plays the role of Prof Subarna Sen. Chatterjee, who has made a career out of playing the so-called ‘sleuth’ in such mystery and adventure films is not entirely unlikable, but that’s about all that can be said about him. Arjun Chakraborty shows great flair playing young Abir. He has fantastic comic timing, but is given very little to play with. Watch out for the guy though, because the kid’s got moves! Given sufficient material that’s effective and efficient, he has the potential of giving terrific comic performances. Rajatabha Dutta plays the bad guy, and while his performance is quite one-note, he does succeed in bringing in a couple of good laughs towards the film’s climax.
Guptodhoner Sandhane is the sort of film which you watch after letting go of all your expectations of intelligent cinema. Only then will you be able to enjoy the film to the hilt. Because at its core, it carries that very spirit which used to excite us when we were little, when fantastic discoveries had the ability to put us in awe and when a treasure hunt was more important to us than all the logic in the world.
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