Eagoler Chokh means ‘the eye of the eagle’, which is a metaphor for the police detective, Shabar Dasgupta (Saswata Chatterjee), who is an unemotional, cold-blooded detective who keeps himself emotionally distanced from the people involved in the cases he solves. This time, he is confronted with one murder and one attempted murder of two different women in the same house. The prime suspect is Bishan Roy (Anirban Bhattacharya), the head of the household whose wife (Jaya Hasan) is critically hurt while her close friend, Nandini (Payel Sarkar), is dead. Who is the killer?
Shirsendu Mukhopadhyay’s original story is a novelette that is not very cinema-friendly because it is not filled with exciting events or dramatic twists at all. But director Arindam Sil very cleverly weaves in several twists and turns and introduces characters that do not exist in the original, succeeding in making Eagoler Chokh a well orchestrated detective thriller and a worthy watch. Sil and co-screenplay writer, Padmanava Dasgupta, have also given a solid back-story to the protagonist Bishan who is a chronic alcoholic and a womanizer and yet the audience begins to warm up to him and even empathize with him in the trapped situation he finds himself in. This is more a character-centric story because every single character, big and small, significant or not quite so, is fleshed out with meaning that enhances the narrative with Bishan’s back story bringing across a sort of redemption in the end.
Not surprising then, the best part of the film lies in the acting. Never mind if it is June Maliah as the psychiatrist – not there in the original novel – who is very good though one fails to understand why she wears such a short skirt in her consulting chamber having to face mental cases all the time. Payel Sarkar as Nandini and Jaya Hasan as Bishan’s beautiful wife Shivangi are effective enough in their more or less brief roles. But the cream on top of the cake, along with the cake goes rightly to Anirban Bhattacharya, who portrays Bishan, the confused, messed-up, darkly handsome young man haunted by a dark past. Close on his footsteps is the totally underutilized actress Arunima Ghosh who plays a prostitute in a great cameo alongside Saswata Chatterjee as Shabar Dasgupta. Ushashie’s debut is marred by her mask-like make-up that hides any facial mobility she may have had to begin with while Shubhabrata Dutta has little to do as Shabar’s assistant Nanda who silently accepts his boss’s constant pot-shots made at his poor knowledge of English and poor IQ. Shabar is a detective with lots of attitude which is ideally expressed by Saswata who is today rightly acknowledged as one of the most versatile actors in the Bengali film industry. Gaurab Chatterjee as a novice policeman is fine.
Editor Sujoy Dutta Roy had a tough challenge as the story swings from one location to the next throughout the film, but nevertheless does a worthy job of fluidly putting it all together. Soumik Haldar’s cinematography offers just the right perspective, capturing the past flashbacks into Bishan’s adolescence in silhouettes so that the identity of the other person remains anonymous according the demands of the story, while he goes all out to capture the city in its present state right into a nightclub/bar with disco lights focused on gyrating item girls in skimpy costumes that rightly remain vague, or, letting the camera pan across shots of a blood splattered body lying on the floor till it moves into the bedroom of Shivangi, Bishan’s wife.
The loud decibels in which the music is played, both in the background score as well as in the few songs, distract and dispel more than enrich the ambiance of mystery. This is sad but true because there are very few music talents of Bickram’s Ghosh calibre not only in India but also beyond Indian shores. Somehow, the music here does not blend itself into the narrative and this becomes a downside of the entire film.
One logical lapse one needs to draw attention to is how is the detective allowed inside the private cabin of a critically injured patient without any nurse or paramedical staff in attendance? She is so critical that she can hardly speak at the time. The second time she is better but the husband gains free entry without a nurse in attendance. Why?
All said and done, Eagoler Chokh is a much more finished and sophisticated production than Sil’s earlier number, Ebar Shabor, and worth a watch.
Bengali, Thriller, Color