Some films are dark, complex, and complicated, and yet manage to entertain you with their style and enigma. SSBHK is one such film.
Story: The relationship status between the film and its story is complicated. Author Swapan Kumar wants to make a comeback with his one last Dipak Chatterjee novel. Bengal’s pulp fiction hero Dipak Chatterjee (Abir Chatterjee) gets a job to save the city from dangerous Badami Hyena. Dipak refuses. But Swapan Kumar and the detective’s right-hand man Ratanlal (Pratik Dutta) insist him to take up the case. A reluctant Dipak Chatterjee gets back in action. Throughout all this, the director slips in comments on the current cultural scene in Bengal in an impeccable style.
Review: Shri Swapankumarer Badami Hyenar Kobole is an enchanting watch. It has its ups and downs like every other film. However, it is one of the films that cannot be evaluated just with its positive and negative sides.
First things first, SSBHK is a strikingly brave film. It is delectably nonlinear and dotted with references and cross-references. It doesn’t care a damn about any gallery-pleasing narration. Like its protagonist Dipak Chatterjee, the film too is cynical, humorous, and sarcastic, especially towards the gatekeepers of Bengali culture.
Secondly, it has envious music. The songs and the background music score a perfect 10. Badami Hyena is haunting and melancholy so much so it plays in a loop hours after the film is over. Nirbashito Chnad keeps coming back in the film and floors us with its magic.
Third, the performances. Every single one is outstanding and exaggerated. Abir – the actor who singlehandedly represents the Bengali mania over the detective industry – is deliciously deconstructed as a forgotten, ignored, and defeated Dipak Chatterjee. Self-deprecating humour is not a forte of the sub-continent and Abir champions that flavour with complete confidence.
Paran Bandyopadhyay is again, an outstanding Swapan Kumar – a defeated and looked-down-upon best-selling writer – who refuses to give up. Swapan Kumar is not as cynical as Dipak. He wants to write again and he doesn't mind taking advice from his character, Dipak. He makes Samarendranath Pandey’s possible heartbreaks real.
Pratik Dutta is an uber-talented actor. There is a scene where he gradually looks up in delight and Ye Banks And Braes starts playing in the background. He steals the show in that scene for sure. He is a treat to watch simply because of his effortlessness on the screen. Shruti Das seems straight out of a graphic novel. Saoli Chatterjee is perfect as Nandi – the corporate representation in pulp fiction. The magician and his assistant are also fascinating. Goutam Halder's usual exaggeration syncs perfectly well with the film.
Finally, there are some unforgettable shots in the film. In one, the magician flies away from Dipak Chatterjee and in many others, there is rain in the night. And then the shadow dance of Swapan Kumar in the title card. Such scenes are here to stay.
It is pulp fiction and in signature ‘ki-hoite-ki-hoiya-gelo’ moments, the writers throw all the logical elements up in the air. People make a comeback after their seeming annihilation and identities get blurred in a way. And yet, it is a treat.
Verdict: Every film doesn’t need to tell you a comprehensible and tight story. Every film is not just about narration. Some films are dark, complex, and complicated, and yet manage to entertain you with their style and enigma. SSBHK is one such film. Do watch it. It is surreal but nice.