“Smoking is injurious to health. It causes cancer.” Gangster, a doomed love story triggered and filled with a lot of violence, murders, blood and gore, offers almost an open challenge to this warning that appears at the beginning and after the interval of every film. This is spelt out by the hero Kabir/Guru (Yash Dasgupta), a much-in-demand small screen actor who makes his big screen debut in the title role of the film.
Kabir is forced into a life of crime by the head of a mafia gang. He decides to become a big-time killer and is trained by his mentor (Bratya Basu) who declares him to be his own son. But he falls in love with the beautiful Ruhi (Mimi Chakraborty) who wears high-end designer dresses though her mother keeps a grocery shop. She falls in love with Guru who decides to become Kabir again and quits the criminal world. Wife Ruhi is happy but only for a while. She asks him to go back to his Guru persona all over again when she realises that the organization will not allow him to live in peace. He is reluctant but gives in and becomes the dreaded gangster Guru all over again. After many twists and turns which make the film interesting after the interval, the film ends unhappily ever after. Why? For the answer, go watch the film if you can.
Gangster has been shot entirely in Istanbul and Turkey At least 35 members the cast and crew of the film were trapped in Istanbul but they were all “safe,” following the attempted military coup in the country in June this year. All this sounds more adventurous than either the film or its story. But the foreign backdrop strips the story and all its characters of any social sense of history or culture. This is enhanced because the country is never identified through the film yet all characters seem to be either Bengali speaking or non-Bengalis who speak in Bengali which makes the story appear like a collage of fast-moving, action-driven incidents instead of a cohesive story that gives some sense of credibility to the characters and their interaction. The first half takes its own sweet time to come to the point while the second half picks up a different thread that at least speeds up the pace of the narrative.
Yash Dasgupta has the height and build of a screen hero but he simply cannot express emotions through his face, which lets down the film big time. He walks with a slight stoop that takes away from his body language. One strongly suspects that that is the reason why director Birsa Dasgupta gives him an escape route through the endless chain of cigarettes he keeps smoking when not busy killing someone or bashing up five people at the same time or being bashed up in return. He dresses nattily and looks great only when he puffing at his cigarette. Mimi is very good but in this film, Birsa focuses so much on her costume, her glamour, her hair, her make-up and her footwear that in spite of a layered character, her talent is wasted under layers of make-up and chutzpah.
Bratya Basu as Guru’s mentor has become extremely repetitive in his dialogue delivery in film after film and the difference drawn with his Muslim get-up and soorma-lined eyes do not help at all. Gourav Chakraborty as Kabir’s close friend who Kabir is assigned to kill to get initiated into the criminal world is very good in a small role but why he has been killed remains a mystery till the end. Soham comes across memorably in a blink-and-you-miss-it scene. poor Biswajit Chakraborty as the head priest is wasted in a bit role. Anasua Majumdar is another good actress wasted in this film.
Arindam Chatterjee’s music and Prosen’s lovely lyrics are the saving grace of this film and almost all the song trailers are big hits with listeners and surfers. They are woven imaginatively into the script and the soundtrack. But the editing is disastrous and this is surprising considering that Sujoy Datta Ray is very experienced editor and has done very good work earlier. The art direction does not make many demands as the DOP and the director tries to make the most of the topography and the landscape of the city but the visuals are hardly appealing.
If at all Gangster is worth a watch, it would be because of the very young romantic love it portrays and the constant action it floods the screen with, while being aided by some hummable music. But the key words here are ‘if at all’.
Bengali, Action, Drama, Color