Slow but not boring, attempting a thriller but not achieving it, showing promise but lacking the killer instinct: Pratim D. Gupta’s 2016 thriller Saheb Bibi Golaam attempts to be good but the result is quite mediocre. This is Gupta’s second feature after Paanch Adhyay, if his short 8 to 8 for the project X: Past is Present is not considered; this movie has its moments but it needs rethinking in many portions. But one thing very much noticeable in the film is the performance by the actors especially Ritwick Chakraborty and Swastika Mukherjee.
It is the story of three individuals, Jimmy Luke (Anjan Dutt), Jaya (Swastika) and Javed (Ritwick) who encounters each other after a tragic incident comes down like a storm over their lives and sweeps their happiness from them. Jimmy is an ex-cop turned hit-man; Jaya is a housewife, a neglected wife and a caring mother, works as prostitute in the afternoons; Javed is taxi driver in Kolkata who falls in love with Rumi (Parno Mitra), a modern, carefree daughter to some rich parents. She reciprocates his love for her and both are tangled in this romantic affair. When she is brutally raped by Zico (Vikram) on New Year’s Eve, Javed’s life is shattered. On her death her parents offer the hit to Jimmy, who ponders before accepting the job of killing a minister’s son, Zico, but shoots Javed by mistake in the room where Jaya works as a hooker. After the tensions are relieved somewhat, Jimmy plans with Jaya and castrates his male organ and return to Javed’s room in the hospital.
Anjan Dutt as the reclusive, repenting and (somewhat) ruthless assassin is noticeable at intervals probably; the lack characterization of Jimmy makes him a difficult watch. The shades of Jaya as a loving mother, as a frustrated housewife and the seductress is a job well done by Swastika. But from the after the interval, the entire momentum is carried by Ritwick and little bit by Parno. Ritwick enters into the skin of Javed as the obsessed romantic, as the free-spirited lover, as the serious man talking about his profession and religion as a hindrance to marriage, a compassionate son and a heartbroken, inconsolable child after the death of Rumi. Parno does well as an ultra-modern chick, who parties every weekend and has very busy social (networking) life. Vikram as Zico is a bit confusing; his shouting and abusing everyone except is minister father, in front of whom he acts like “little girl”.
The camera is used in such a way that doesn’t seek attention for good reason; some hand-held shots are too shaky lacking the depth (may be intentional; but a bad choice); in one semicircular panning and tilting (probably a crane shot) the speed is such that the image becomes fuzzy. This is probably one of the simplest films to tell a complete story in the form of separate small ones connected by a string. Comparing it with Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s Death Trilogy, where all three films follow a similar pattern but the structure is a much much complex one than Saheb Bibi Golaam’s. There are more than a few scenes which were used previously in some Hollywood films; maybe they are intentional may be not, but it’s hard not to notice. One amongst them, if not mentioned will be an injustice to the original one. In the opening scene, Jimmy kills a man using a wire pressing it around the neck of the victim. Their faces are shown: the pain in the victim’s face and the cruel face of the killer. The next shot is of the victim’s throwing his legs in desperation. A similar scene is there in the Coen Brothers’ Academy Award winning No Country for Old Men. But frankly, Jimmy Luke is not an “Anton Chigurh”, Gupta is definitely not Joel or Ethan Coen and Saheb Bibi Golaam is certainly not a No Country for Old Men.
Film Score: 56
Director: Pratim D. Gupta Screenplay: Pratim D. Gupta Cinematography: Gairik Sarkar Editing: Sanjeeb Dutta Music: Anupan Roy, Neel Adhikari Cast: Ritwick Chakraborty, Parno Mitra, Swastika Mukherjee, Anjan Dutt