The fact that a film sans stars has scaled its way to success has left film enthusiasts and critics curious, with a majority of them totally baffled.
A still from the film Aparajito
Evidently, Anik Dutta’s Aparajito has drawn the urban Bengali audience away from their computer screens and back to theatres. The fact that a film sans stars has scaled its way to success has left film enthusiasts and critics curious, with a majority of them totally baffled. More so, because it neither banks on the tested Feluda-Byomkesh thriller-plus-detective trope, nor does it offer an elaborate family saga filled with pretty-pretty sentimental stuff.
Some critics point out that Aparajito has been able to tick the right set of middle-class Bengali sensibilities. Meanwhile, another set of film buffs has countered the claim. According to them, contrary to the tested formula of Bengali sentimentality that worked in the last decade through super hit films like Praktan, Haami and several other Shiboprosad Mukherjee-Nandita Roy films, Aparajito is laden with nostalgic melancholy about the Golden Age of Bengali intellectualism of the 1960s and '70s. This flavour, according to experts, never fails to stimulate the grey cells of the ‘buddhideepto Bangali’ (intelligent Bengali).
Whatever be the argument, the continual full house shows of Aparajito have brought a broad smile back to the faces of theatre owners and producers. Meanwhile, at OTTPlay, we tried to decode the success story of Aparajito.
#1 The doppelgänger effect:
The first masterstroke of the director is probably casting Jeetu Kamal as Satyajit Ray. Jeetu looks eerily like Satyajit Ray. The slight dissimilarities were perfectly repaired by prosthetic makeup artist Somnath Kundu and the director. As a result, Jeetu looks, acts, walks and even raises his arm over his head like Ray and that works like magic on the big screen. One may wonder how the physical appearance of a person can be the forte of creative exuberance in a film. In reality, Jeetu’s similarity with Ray casts a spell on the audience, which succumbs to the myth and magic of the iconic filmmaker.
#2 A gentle reminder of Bengal’s love for intellectuals
Bengal has a tradition of candidly admiring intellectual creativity. As a race, we take pride in meritocratic ideals over material wealth and Aparajito encapsulates this flavour through the characters it portrays. Not just the leads, but even the character artists in the film are well-read and have a broad and liberal worldview.
#3 The taste of success
Evidently, we love to watch a success story. And that tale becomes sweeter when it is achieved by a well-coordinated team that exudes camaraderie. One of the most defining scenes in the film is when Aparajito Ray receives a standing ovation at the same coffee house where he started his filmmaking journey with his friends after his film takes off successfully. This particular scene is sure to give goosebumps.
#4 The timeless currency of Ray
Bengalis are often stereotyped as a race that is constantly in love with its icons. Ray brought us the Oscar and global fame that we never dreamt of in filmmaking. Over the years there have been many films that paid tribute to Ray – Srijit Mukherji's Autograph pays tribute to Ray’s Nayak is one such. Aparajito cashes in on our love for that tall, relaxed, and austerely handsome man who rejected mass-focused Bengali films of the time and made us proud to be Bengalis in the movie world.