Shabor Dasgupta, the fictional inspector created by Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay, is a name I got acquainted with only recently. An ordinary-looking man with an extraordinary gift for deduction, Shabor is not only adept at identifying the streaks of grey and black that lurk behind people who are otherwise ‘normal’, but he often empathises with these dark traits, making him vulnerably human. “Ebar Shabor”, released in 2015, directed by Arindam Sil, was the movie which introduced me to this tough, yet compassionate fighter of crime.
“Ebar Shabor” was a fine film directed by Arindam Sil. With a plot that threaded together extra-marital affairs and sordid characters with elan, it was sort of a coming of age of the Bengali detective. A shift from the wholesome young-adult charm of Feluda and even Byomkesh (barring a story or two), the film dealt with an adult theme without resorting to unnecessary voyeurism or attempt at titillation. It was a deftly-made film, with crisp editing and good acting all around. It was this film that made me buy and read the Shabor stories, staying up till wee hours to finish reading them all in less than a week.
Reason why, I was looking forward to watching “Eagoler Chokh” (the sequel) from the moment I set my eyes of the greyscale billboards across Kolkata. And after watching the film, I gladly forgave myself for having shuffled a few urgent tasks to make time to watch it.
While the editing and direction have lived up to the high standards set in the first film, it is the acting that soars even higher. Saswata Chatterjee as Shabor Dasgupta, is an actor who crawls beneath the skin of the character to bring alive the law-keeper’s own insecurities and his personal tussle to come to terms with what is moral and what is not. Subhrojit Dutta as Shabor’s sidekick, Nondo, plays the perfect foil to the detective, while Gaurav Chakrabarty as a young officer who enlists Shabor’s help towards solving the crime hits all the right chords in a brief appearance.
Shabor’s exasperation following Jogobondhu-alumnus Nondo’s less than perfect command over the English language provides some of the lighter moments in the film. Jaya Ahsan is one of those rare actresses who uses her eyes to portray her conflicting emotions, while Paayel Sarkar, Arunima Ghosh, June Malia, Riya Banik, and 2010 Miss Universe contestant Ushoshi Sengupta are well cast and do justice to their characters.
However, it is Anirban Bhattacharya as Bishan Roy who straddles the film with his nuanced portrayal of a man, whose past holds the key to his conflicting personalities that hint at unplumbed darkness of his inner being. A relative newcomer to films, he exudes a presence that’s impossible to ignore, backing it up with layers of expression that wash over his mobile face, to make his celluloid persona palpably flesh-and-blood on screen.
An honorable addition to the crime thriller/suspense genre, “Eagoler Chokh” is a film worth watching. Not just for the fast pace, good acting, and competent direction, but for a bird’s eye view of the hearts of darkness that dwell among us.