Bengali, Film, Review


Mainak Bhaumik is generally known for exploring relationships in his films. But so far as the thriller genre is concerned, Bornoporichoy is his first attempt. And since the film focusses on two persons pitted against one another, Dhananjoy (Jisshu  Sengupta), an ex-policeman and Arko (Abir Chatterjee), a serial killer, it could well be defined as a combination of a police thriller and a psychological thriller both rolled into one. But how effective is it is the big question.

Bornoporichoy begins with a graphically violent scene of a man being burnt to death. Dhananjoy is introduced dramatically, as an ex-policeman who is so obsessed with his failure to nab a notorious killer that not only does he drown himself in alcohol but also forces his wife to leave him with their son in tow. He wakes up on the sofa of his living room with a heavy hangover. Whether he was thrown out of the force for his alcoholism or whether he quit on his own remains a mystery. But he comes back and walks into his office amidst happy welcomes and no one as much as blinks which, to my mind, is stretching things a bit too far and none too convincing.

The film plays around with the two dynamics of suspense – concealment and protraction, described in detail by Lars Ole Sauerberg in Secret Agents of Fiction (1984). Suspense through concealment is created by hiding something from the audience while suspense through protraction (delayed revelation) is delaying an expected outcome. Mainak achieves both through the two characters at loggerheads with each other as if through telepathy as they hardly meet while we are kept on tenterhooks on whether the killer will finally be nabbed and how.

The script keeps the character of the killer somewhat in the dark while fleshing out the character of Dhananjoy who is filled with a strange sense of self-pity and self-hate at his failure in nabbing the faceless culprit, who returns to his killing spree after a break of five years. Who is he? Why is he killing and why so brutally? Dhananjoy, his superior and the rest of the team set out to find answers with Dhananjoy considered ideal in ‘reading into’ the mind of the killer. The script gives both the protagonists heavily sentimentalised back stories, which might have worked had this film not been a murder mystery that carries the tagline ‘The Grammar of Death’.

Arko follows a ritual pattern in choosing the modus operandi of his killings and their links to each other are expressed in riddles. Dhananjoy tries to answer them but cannot till we near the end.  By then, we learn to box Bornoporichoy as a vigilante thriller where Arko is out to avenge those who created the biggest tragedy of his life. But thanks to the twists and turns, we, like Dhananjoy, are not very sure of the clash between the police officer and the killer, whose face is revealed right in the beginning but not his identity.

Keeping aside the psychological underpinnings, one thing the film almost spells out from the beginning is the nemesis the killer will reach and if you are observant enough, you can read it from as far as a mile! The cinematography (Ramyadip Saha) is outstanding. The barge catching fire in the river, one victim’s face pushed into a commode and held for long, the repeat shot of a man on fire struggling to step out, are brilliant. These scenes are kept on the darker side, while through a dominance of blues and greys, punctuated with flaming fire, the cinematography enriches the mystery in the story.

The background score is a bit on the louder side which demanded a more low-key treatment in a suspense film of this type. One song is good but the film could have stood quite well without it. The jet-paced, cutting edge editing is good in most places except when the camera tends to focus on the housetops and the moon and lingers for moments there telling on the overall pace and rhythm of the film.

The film’s outstanding quality lies in the performance of every single actor with the lead taken by the two protagonists – Dhananjoy and Arko. Jisshu and Abir are featured together for the first time and both live their parts underscoring a juxtaposition in sharp contrasts. Dhananjoy is forever disturbed, anxious, desperate, frustrated, missing his wife and son while trying his best to be a good father and husband and failing every single time on the one hand while on the other, his obsession with catching the killer before he can do more harm pulls him in the opposite direction making him aware that he is a failure as a police officer and also as a husband and father. Jisshu is marvellous in his realization of this multi-shaded, complex character. Abir, who plays the mysterious Arko, is a smooth-talking, strikingly handsome operator who keeps talking to his victims quite coolly even as he continues to put them through severe torture trying to prolong their pain and their panic with every passing moment. He is almost lovable who appears to ooze charm in looks and in speech even when he talks to Dhananjoy directly or over the phone. Priyanka as Dhananjoy’s helpless wife has a brief role and does it well. The other actors, mainly Sudeep as Dhananjoy’s boss and the two young policemen are convincing.

What ails the film is its very weak script which threatens to fall through every other minute. The way the killings are planned and executed smoothly almost defying detection, seem impossible to execute by a single man especially when he appears to be in poor health. His physical dynamism and action are without logic. We see him playing two different roles which is quite impossible considering his increasingly debilitating health condition. Can a policeman reputed for his powers of detection really become an alcoholic for not being able to nab a single killer in his entire career till then and also get out of that alcoholism before you can say abracadabra? Perhaps the combination of several thriller genres has weakened the script and robbed it from some logic, rescued almost solely by the performing actors. The chills one would expect from a true blue thriller are missing. Having said that, for a first-time venture into the thriller genre, Barnoporichoy is entertaining in parts and is a somewhat gripping offering into the dystopian world the film inhabits.


Bengali, Thriller, Color

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