Shakkhi movie review: A poorly executed film that wastes its promising premise

Bhaskar Chattopadhyay

Jun 08, 2019 16:43:04 IST

2/5

Shouvick Sarkar’s third directorial venture after Chupkotha and Virus is a perplexing little film titled Shakkhi. I call it perplexing because the film is based on a story that is, in fact, quite interesting and one could have easily made a nice engaging drama out of it. Sarkar even had a fantastic array of actors standing by him to make the film work. But the execution of the film is quite disappointing, and at every stage, it turned out to be an uphill task simply to remain invested in it. The problem, then, is not so much with the ingredients – because Sarkar had everything going for him – but with the cooking process itself. Which is very sad.

Shakkhi movie review: A poorly executed film that wastes its promising premise

A still from Shakhhi. YouTube

Shyamal is a promising young chap in the dockyard neighbourhood of Kolkata, who makes a living by giving false witness in court. He is in the good books of the local mafioso Bhai Da, and his loyal lieutenant Barun Da. When the spoilt brat of a son – Jagat – of this feared don ends up raping a young woman named Shikha, Shyamal is asked to call off the victim as a woman of questionable repute, which he does with significant ease and elan. The perpetrator Jagat goes scot free and poor Shikha has to face significant social ostracisation. But when Shikha turns out to be Shyamal’s neighbour in the slum where he lives, the young man suddenly springs a conscience, and in a somewhat unconvincing twist in the tale, begins to fall for her.

At first glance, the fact that Shyamal inexplicably begins to feel for Shikha came across as utterly incredible to me. But perhaps there is an explanation for his rather odd behaviour. The fact that he has never been in direct contact with the people he has given evidence against, and that he has never seen – first hand – the outcome of his clearly heinous acts could perhaps be why had never felt the pangs of moral conscience. But here she was – a walking, talking corpse, left lifeless and joyless by a cruel world who, even today, well into the 21st century, blames the victim for an act such as rape. On witnessing her plight with his own eyes, Shyamal’s convictions may have turned around.

Is it possible that I am giving more credit to the film than it deserves? Perhaps yes, perhaps no. But one thing is for sure – the rest of the film is one big messy bundle. Actors have very little to work with, unnecessary characters are brought in, item numbers are inserted for sensational reasons and why, oh why are there Hindi lyrics in Bengali songs? Even the background score is self-important, in so much as it is constantly trying to create an atmosphere that the actors on the screen are failing to depict with their performances. The side-characters overact the hell out of their lines, and there are several scenes, which show extremely poor craftsmanship. And all the mayhem ends with one big twist in the plot, which is as sensational as it is unconvincing.

It is a massively difficult task to choose a performance to speak about, from among the slew of deadbeat ones that have flocked this film. Which is quite surprising, because the actors themselves are extremely talented. One must blame the script, I guess – I can’t seem to find any other reason for such a poor show. Among the better ones is the performance of Shantilal Mukherjee – the trusted right-hand man of the dockyard don. Mukherjee is earnest and serious about the relatively well-written role he has been entrusted with, and seldom misses a beat. But even he is a far cry from the beautiful performances that I have seen him give in his other films. Arjun Chakrabarty puts in a genuine effort as Shyamal, although he was not entirely successful in depicting the duel that must have gone on inside the mind of his character. This, I am afraid, is not one of the better performances of Saayoni Ghosh, who came across as rather one-note to me. I also felt she was frightfully miscast for the role, simply because she just didn’t look, speak or act the part. One of my favourite actors – Anindya Banerjee – plays the errant son of the lozenge-sucking don (a trait given for the sake of it, perhaps?) and does a less-than-decent job. Other than these, there isn’t a single performance that deserves a mention.

I have not had the opportunity of watching Shouvick Sarkar’s other two films, but going by his craft in Shakkhi, I am thoroughly unimpressed. This is a film that I will perhaps remember for a very long time – for the simple reason that it wasted a perfectly good opportunity to tell a great story.

Updated Date: Jun 08, 2019 16:43:04 IST