Director: Mainak Bhaumik
Cast: Abir Chatterjee, Priyanka Sarkar, Jisshu Sengupta
The five elements – fire, water, air, earth and space – cryptic clues that include messages like ‘Happy New Year 2025’, other indecipherable number puzzles that point to important timelines and milestones pertaining to the city of Calcutta, two classic Bengali novels, Rabindranath Tagore’s Noukadubi and Manik Bandopadhyay’s Padma Nadir Majhi, a ‘psycho’ who is not only on a killing spree but is also gleefully baiting his old nemesis, a down-and-out alcoholic police officer, with an abundance of clues and voice messages, more or less daring the latter to come and get him, and Indraadip Dasgupta’s pulsating background score … Mainak Bhaumik’s maiden exploration of the genre has all the makings of a taut intelligent thriller.
The one thing that Mainak gets spot on is establishing the ambience right at the outset. From the first frame, as he torments a man before setting him on fire, we know that Arko (Abir Chatterjee) is the unhinged killer. Cut to: the tormented police officer Dhananjoy (Jisshu Sengupta), who too is unhinged in his own way. Obsessed with the killer and his failure to nab him seven years ago, he is now an alcoholic wreck, separated from his wife Malini (Priyanka Sarkar) and son Gogol. In many ways then, the killer and the police officer are soul mates, mirror images of each other, one’s existence defining and giving meaning to the other, one incomplete without the other.
The often mawkish sentimentality that characterizes this portion of the film sits uneasily with the thriller aspect at its core and robs it of the killer punch
Add to this a series of intelligent clues woven into the screenplay, pointers that require you to pay attention to what’s unfolding onscreen, and some sharp dialogue-baazi between the two protagonists, and Bornoporichoy had the kernel of a good psychological thriller that could have gone beyond the tropes of the genre. Unfortunately for the film, and the viewer, the impact is diluted by the director’s propensity to spell out a lot of the stuff – self-explanatory dialogues that give the impression that the film-makers do not have much faith in the intelligence of the viewer. So much so that after a point, one of the film’s strongest suits, its dialogues, become dialogue for the sake of dialogue. Nowhere is this more evident than in the seemingly interminable climactic encounter between Arko and Dhananjoy, which drains all the thrill out of the thriller.
Then there’s the rather long and unnecessary exposition of Dhananjoy’s personal life, which is in a shambles. A film that could have been a taut 90 minutes long is undermined by one longish stretch that lays out in infuriating detail (including a song that despite its inherent melody only has you impatient for the narrative to get going) the genesis of his troubled relationship with his family. More importantly, the often mawkish sentimentality that characterizes this portion of the film sits uneasily with the thriller aspect at its core and robs it of the killer punch.
After a point, one of the film’s strongest suits, its dialogues, become dialogue for the sake of dialogue
Abir and Jisshu are a perfect foil to each other in this cat-and-mouse game, though one has to admit that it is Abir who has the more interesting role, one he delivers with aplomb. Every twitch of his face, every smirk that taunts both his victims and the officer out to get him, the way he modulates his voice, giving it a playful school-teacher-like inflexion, while singing or reciting a poem even as he goes about unleashing his ‘madness’ is testimony to an actor at the top of his game. Jisshu, in contrast, has the more predictable and thankless role, though it does provide a much-needed subdued balance to Abir’s histrionics. It does not help that he is saddled with the film’s weaker, sentimental, parts. Given this handicap, Jisshu does a more-than-competent job, essaying a psychological wreck looking for redemption, and seeking it in the very person responsible for his condition.
If only Mainak Bhaumik had kept the narrative more focussed on this aspect of the relationship between two tortured souls, Bornoporichoy would have been a truly thrilling ride.