Yeti Obhijaan movie review: Srijit Mukherji's film does not live up to its cinematic potential

Bhaskar Chattopadhyay

October 08, 2017 13:04:31 IST


National Film Award winning director Srijit Mukherji’s latest offering Yeti Obhijaan (The Yeti Adventure) is the second film in a planned trilogy of the adventures of the uncle-nephew duo of Kakababu and Shontu, characters originally created by veteran Bengali writer Sunil Gangopadhyay.

Kakababu, or Raja Roychowdhury, is a retired director of the Archaeological Survey of India, who has lost a leg to an accident many years ago, and who now trots around the globe, solving baffling mysteries and crimes that come his way. His nephew Shontu is a teenaged boy who accompanies him on all his adventures.

In Yeti Obhijaan, Kakababu and Shontu go to the Gorokhshep plateau of Nepal, investigating the sightings of a mythical beast, the abominable snowman, also known in local parlance as the Yeti. They camp inside a dome like structure high up in the Himalayas, from where, Kakababu keeps watch on the surroundings. After a patient wait for several days, when the Yeti is finally sighted, a series of mysterious incidents follow, and a motley group of individuals zero in on the spot, leading Kakababu to believe that there’s more to what meets the eye amidst the snow-capped mountains surrounding them.

Prosenjit Chatterjee in a still from Yeti Obhijaan. YouTube

Prosenjit Chatterjee in a still from Yeti Obhijaan. YouTube

While the story has immense cinematic potential, the treatment of the subject and the execution both falter at ground level. The photography of the snow-covered peaks and the clear blue skies are breathtakingly beautiful, the drone shots executed with great affection and the cinematography extremely commendable. But the director’s love for his visuals is so intense that it tends to overshadow the storyline. At times, a scene – albeit beautiful and charming – lingers on for so long that it almost seems as if he has forgotten when to say ‘cut’, thus spoiling the effect, just like an otherwise well told joke is spoiled by dragging it too long.

The songs composed by Indradeep Dasgupta are melodious, and well placed. The song ‘Kakababur Obhijaan’, in particular, is beautifully written and composed. The background score is apt for an adventure thriller such as this, but there’s so much of it and so often, that at times, we want it to stop. In fact, the one highlight that was indeed needed in a setting as desolate as the Himalayas – the silence – comes very, very rarely, if at all.

Without a shadow of doubt, the weakest element in Yeti Obhijaan is the writing. Economy in writing has never been a strength of Srijit Mukherji, but it is painful to see the man who wrote and directed the brilliant serial-killer thriller Baishe Shrabon go and serve dollop after dollop of clearly unnecessary, incoherent and implausible scenes to tell his story.

In a scene set in a Harvard University café, for instance, one of the characters, in a bid to prove that the Yeti does exist, shows his skeptical friends three massive teeth, presumably belonging to the monster, by – believe it or not – placing it on the serving tray of a waitress attending to his table. The waitress panics, throws the tray up in the air, upsets the trays of other servers around her, causing panic, chaos and confusion in the café. The execution of the scene is so frivolous, it sadly manages to upset the mood of the story altogether.

The dialogues are too self-important, and as a general principle, every character is loquacious to an alarming degree. In a scene right after Kakababu has gone missing, leaving a large splatter of blood on the snow, the trekking party engages in a rather childish conversation in deciding what to do next, the tension of the moment conspicuously missing from the scene. The jokes, puns and witty sarcasm are far too many, extremely ill-timed and mostly fall flat.

And in one scene, on hearing of Shontu’s break-up with his girlfriend Rini (from the first film in the trilogy), Kakababu breaks the proverbial fourth wall to ask the audience – "Are you happy now?" – perhaps aimed at critics who had raised hell on seeing their beloved and innocent Shontu romancing a girl in the previous film. The entire exercise is gimmicky, unnecessary and seems more like a case of the captain of the ship indulging in himself simply because he can. Very un-Kakababu-like, if one might say so.

There are some good scenes though – for instance the one in which the duo is starving to death – but they are too few in number to make any difference. And among all this confusion, what should have been handled much more carefully – the final twist in the tale – is left hanging, with shoddy execution, unintentional humour, an unbelievably wooden performance by the villain and a never-ending deluge of dialogue that makes one cringe throughout the climax.

Among the actors, Prosenjit Chatterjee delivers the strongest punch. He is in command of his craft, knows what he is doing, uses the space and the props around him beautifully, but is given too many lines to speak. Although he does his best to carry the film on his shoulders, the performances by most of the other actors make sure his genuine efforts go nowhere. The costume designer and the make-up artist have made him look exactly like Kakababu though, almost as if he has stepped right out of the pages of the novels. Jisshu Sengupta, in a brilliant special appearance as a Major from the Nepalese Army, is perhaps the film’s best actor, but the rest of the cast largely disappoints.

Watch Yeti Obhijaan only if you want to relive the nostalgic days of lapping up Kakababu novels from the pages of the puja edition of Anandamela. Be prepared for a rude jolt to that nostalgia though.

Updated Date: Oct 08, 2017 13:04 PM