Gora Piggybacks on the Glorious, Messy Casualness of Ritwick Chakraborty
Director: Sayantan Ghosal
Writer: Sahana Dutta
Cast: Ritwick Chakraborty, Suhotra Mukhopadhyay, Ishaa Saha, Ananya Sen, Abhijit Guha
Streaming on: Hoichoi
Make no mistake. Gora is a poorly written, amateurish, half-baked show that uses its titular character's absentmindedness as an excuse for its own narrative incoherence. But it celebrates its leading man like no other film has done before. I am being generous when I say 'celebrate'. I should say 'exploit' for the way it depends on his talent for improvisation. I don't know whether to give them credit for it or to accuse them for being unable to come up with a script that does justice to it. But let's say Gora expects to get away with its shoddiness by having him in a role that needs him to freestyle for the most part as the eccentric, forgetful detective who, among other things, is very bad with remembering names. This means every time he will mess up the name of a character, you have to laugh. It's forced and manipulative but Chakraborty makes it work, as in when he calls a woman called Supriya, Suchitra Sen. I know. It's not funny. But he makes it work. That's what I'm trying to say.
Gora is to Ritwick what WAR was to Hrithik (except WAR was actually pretty good). Key to this comparison is the way he is styled, as a greying Bengali boho with a man bun who makes wearing floaters look cool and gives men with receding hairlines hope. The show managed to simultaneously make me feel bad (for having to sit through it) and good (about myself).
Chakraborty has always been about fine acting and this is the first time the camera is caught crushing on him. Thankfully, overt attempts of aestheticising him are offset by messy and weird antics like gurgling with a cup of tea or disrupting a session of gully cricket by attempting to bowl with a lighted cigarette in one hand and a ball in another, eventually dispatching the former at the kid batting. The inherent sarcasm present in the actor's DNA finds an outlet in the character's propensity to insult everyone around him, most of all his assistant, Sarathi, played nicely by Suhotra Mukhopadhyay. (Their contrasts are behavioural as well as visual – he is prim and proper, sporting side-parted hair and a compact moustache, along with glasses).
Which is not to say that this is one of Chakraborty's best performances – far from it. The actor has always represented the best of contemporary Bengali cinema by being a magnet for good scripts and directors. In those, he is always at the service of the script and the director, as it should be. Here, for the first time, it's the reverse, and it's not how it should be. And yet, it might be exactly what the doctor ordered. Chakraborty's body of work never yielded the kind of stardom he deserved in terms of box office numbers. On the contrary, I can see that people are liking Gora. (They deserve each other). Expect this to translate to numbers – OTT stardom awaits.