Director: Birsa Dasgupta
Cast: Anirban Bhattacharya, Anirban Chakraborty, Chandreyee Ghosh, Tota Roychowdhury
Streaming on: Hoichoi
Nearly everything in Birsa Dasgupta’s Mukhosh is so painfully obvious, so devoid of dramatic tension that you might forget you are watching a thriller. Policeman dumped in a city waste yard? It’s a message from the serial killer, says the smart criminologist Kingshuk (Anirban Bhattacharya), and it’s loud and clear: Police is garbage. Believe it or not, that’s how literal minded this movie is. When his predictions keep being proven right, a senior officer (Chandreyee Ghosh) under whom Kingshuk works, says, ‘He was right’. Some time into the movie, when a wayward teenage hacker appointed by the police department spills coffee on a cross picked up as an important piece of evidence, he, no surprises there, says out loud, ‘The evidence is spoiled’.
If you’re reading this (and therefore you have nothing better to do), you’d have figured the plot by now. Like numerous other serial killer thrillers, this Bengali remake of Malayalam film Anjaam Pathiraa is a game of cat and mouse between the protagonist and the antagonist, who somehow harbours a deep hatred toward the police. His killings are ritualistic, as demonstrated by the cross, as it is religious (and therefore deals, or at least pretends to deal with, lofty themes of sin and justice).
None of that matters, of course, because it’s really hard to care about. Reviewing movies comes with a caveat—you get paid to watch movies, but unlike the average viewer, you cannot simply also abandon something like Mukhosh. You keep playing, let life happen, check Twitter Instagram Facebook. Maybe even get some work done (oh wait, this is work). Nothing on screen matters. Everything outside it does.
Mukhosh is not too different from the average Bengali film—mediocre and smugly so, happy to be at least slick-looking (credit to cinematographer Shubhankar Bhar) on a superficial level and quoting Ritwik Ghatak and Sherlock in the same line. Bhattacharya is wasted. I thought of his superb performance in the spoofy and enjoyably silly Detective, which wasn’t big on writing or direction either, but exploited the actor’s versatility.
Mukhosh does come alive a little in the second hour, but by then sixty plus never-ending minutes have been spent on what should’ve been wrapped in twenty. We go back to the first scene, and further back to when Kingshuk, all young and wide-eyed, meets the professor of psychology, David (Tota Roy Chowdhury, not bad)—his hero cum nemesis—gushing with adulation. ‘You’re better than X,’ he tells him; David blushes, ‘You’re embarrassing me’. Years later, Kingshuk will be chasing him down using his very own ideas of psychology. The scene has a sense of play that’s missing from the rest of the film, and it’s more of what it should’ve been.