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Raktabeej review: Shiboprosad Mukherjee and Nandita Roy pass the ‘thriller’ test with flying colours with yet another film dotted with stereotypes

This is, by far, the best film this director duo has offered.

Raktabeej review: Shiboprosad Mukherjee and Nandita Roy pass the ‘thriller’ test with flying colours with yet another film dotted with stereotypes
Victor Banerjee in Raktabeej

Last Updated: 12.53 PM, Oct 20, 2023


Story: Just a few days before President Animesh Chatterjee’s (Victor Banerjee) visit to his hometown, an accidental blast reveals a deadly terrorist plan. IPS Pankaj Sinha (Abir Chatterjee) and his team from the central security force join hands with SP Burdwan IPS Sanjukta Mitra (Mimi Chakraborty) and her team to investigate and provide maximum protection to the President. This series of events takes place during Puja while the President worships goddess Durga at his ancestral home.


Review: Shiboprosad Mukherjee and Nandita Roy stepped out of the comfort zone of family drama and hit a sixer with their first thriller, Raktabeej. The film is gripping and entertaining – dotted with beautiful shots, multiple convincing characters, smart action sequences, and a good portion of humour. And yet, it is a film that is, in a way, problematic.

Let’s start with the positives and the film offers many. To begin with, it is a tightly written plot and script with engaging dialogues loaded with humour. This is a thriller that has no sharp edge to prick you with and yet it offers a roller-coaster ride. The screenplay and editing are also precise. The contrasting movements between Animesh and his sister Gouri Devi’s (beautifully portrayed by Anashua Majumder) intense conversations and Sanjukta, Pankaj, and their team’s raids, interrogations, and investigations are very smartly stitched.

The film uses a lot of bright colours to celebrate Durga Puja. From Shashthi till Dashami – each day tells a story. The film is full of Puja flavour and that is deeply enjoyable. Acting is another strength of this film. Raktabeej is, by far, Mimi Chakraborty’s best performance ever. Her character is humorous and hot-headed and the actress does complete justice to Sanjukta Mitra. Abir’s character is also very different from the thrillers we usually watch him in. Here, he is a real cop and he is a treat to watch. He has no imposed swag. That is Sanjukta’s department. He is a calm and cool officer and Abir executes Pankaj with full gusto.

Victor Banerjee stands tall throughout the film. His share of dialogues are rightfully less and he makes his presence felt with his silent expressions. Along with his sister Gouri, Animesh captivates the audience with their conversations. Both Victor Banerjee and Anashua Majumder have a soothing presence and their brilliant performance is engaging.

Among other characters, Devlina Kumar, Satyam Bhattacharya, Debashish Mondol, and others are also really well. Ambarish Bhattacharya’s character needed a bit more resolution. Finally, it is Kanchan Mullick’s comedy that entertains us from the beginning of the film.

Shiboprosad and Nandita capture rural Bengal delectably. Raktabeej is no exception. Durga Puja in rural Bengal has its own magic and they portray that well. Songs and overall music bear the flavour of both festivity and rural sides of Bengal.

However, even a well-intentioned attempt at cinematically depicting a true story runs the risk of a communal interpretation when different faith communities are involved. And this is exactly what may have happened. Raktabeej means seed of blood. The asura (demon) Raktabeej invoked Lord Brahma and sought from him the boon of immortality. When that was not forthcoming he asked that whenever a drop of his blood fell on earth, another Raktabeej would spring up. So that he would never die. The world would be full of his duplicates. Likewise, the filmmakers seem to suggest, that every drop of blood oozed by a terrorist gives birth to countless demon-like terrorists. Here lies the problem. The primary stereotype of Muslims on screen in run-of-mill thriller films is that they are terrorists, connected with terrorism, or terror sympathisers. The Khagragarh incident accused are indeed all from a particular community. It is equally true that all the other members of the same community living in Khagragarh, Burdwan, and elsewhere in West Bengal were equally horrified by the blast and related terrorist activities. It was expected from a progressive filmmaker to bring this aspect of reality into focus so that the film did not suffer from stereotyping. Raktabeej, however, fails to meet the expectation.

Verdict: As a film, it is entertaining. Unlike many of Shiboprosad and Nandita’s films, it has no unnecessary sentimentality. It is smart and riveting and almost recommendable. And yet like almost all their films, it is problematic, which leaves a sour taste by the end.

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