A cross border romance set during the festivity of the pujas; which has the mixed flavours of the puja, the joy associated with the coming of the goddess; a criss-cross of dialect from the two “bangla”s separated by just a river and a mighty border. The people from the two sides differ in their pronunciation of same words, using different syllables or lingo, use of different forms of cursing in the same situation, same customs, and same border but patrolled by different security personals wearing similar kind of outfits carrying different weapons but having the same objective. Kaushik Ganguly shows all these minute differences and major likeness in his latest work, Bishorjon in which he acts in one of the main supporting cast, almost an antagonist at times; this won the National Award for Best Bengali Feature Film.
Padma, essayed by Joya Ahsan, is a widow on the border village of Bangladesh, whose drunkard husband passed away, leaving her along with her old and bed ridden father-in-law. She has a quiet existence, though her beauty has stirred fire in the hearts of many stags of the village. The brightest of this forest fire is in the heart of Ganesh, a local leader of same sort, though he is certainly not the brightest in appearance and this fire has rendered him weak on many aspects in his daily life. In his desperate attempt to woo her, he also started wearing all white as a respect of Padma’s white saree ; he visits her father-in-law regularly ; buys medicine, grocery and everything ; he continuously tries to strike up conversation with her but he never forces her, what he forces is his own will power to hold back.
Padma discovers a half dead man in the muddy banks of the river. She brings him home and nurses him to consciousness to discover that he is an Indian and a Muslim, both being more dangerous than the other. Nasir, the man whom she gives the identity of her cousin brother who got injured in some accident while visiting her, is a sari trader (actually a smuggler) who frequents India for business. Their roads start crossing with Ganesh and full time side kick, Lau whose primary workload is spying on Padma’s activities. Both Lau and Ganesh suspect something fishy about Padma and her “cousin”. During this game of cat and mouse while Nasir is healing and waiting for his friends across the river –border to come and “rescue” him; Padma’s father-in-law passes away. Nasir takes the role of Padma’s decreased husband in her eyes, as he wears his old clothes, as she brings him the same brand of cigarettes to rekindle the dormant passion inside her body and heart. But the effect is mostly one-sided with almost negligible response from Nasir; though he has a natural weakness towards her poignant beauty.
As the day of his return aka “Bishorjon” draws close; emotions flow endlessly. Padma asks Ganesh for help to send Nasir back without the intrusion of Bangladesh’s border security, in exchange for marriage. To celebrate the tragic ending of her love, she sheds her all white attire and shrouds herself bright colored clothes and drinks liquor and seduces Nasir in the last night. Ultimately, everything but Padma’s heart goes back to normal, who still nurses Nasir’s child born from their last night’s sensuality after more than six years of a seemingly content marriage with Ganesh.
The film is a slow paced one; similar to the slowly passing time in the life of Padma and all others in her sleepy village. Subhajit Singha uses a mix of lengthy shots to reduce the pace of the film. Souvik Basu does well with the night shots, especially of Padma’s house but his day shots are plain or dull to be specific. Abir as Nasir is good, but this is far from his best; Joya is good as the widow with a heart full of passion and as the last night seductress. She handles both the homely and seductive shades equally well. Kaushik Ganguly, the director himself, acts as Ganesh who is sly, overly caring about Padma, is a leader of sorts. He uses the comic timing well along with his side kick Lau who is also good in comedy. But it’s not Kaushik’s acting that I am critical about, but the characterisation of Ganesh, which seems too fluctuating for a person of his stature. His affection and care towards the stunning widow does not exactly match with his other activities and even being one who is so possessive about her can let go of her “relationship” with Nasir, just for marriage is somewhat a fantasy.
Though the film has been awarded the National Award for Best Bengali feature but it’s not a one that can be compared to the best of Ganguly’s works of likes of Shabdo. The final shot of cinema slowly tracks into the now empty house of Padma, which is in ruins and inhabited by weeds, is a remembrance of the final shot of his last film before this one, Cinemawala, which too had a similar ending shot inside the theatre, the camera tracking into the white screen, whereas its tracks into a black void in this one; white for remembrance and black for emptiness of Padma’s heart created by the “demise” of Nasir from her life.
Film Score: 65
Director: Kaushik Ganguly Screenplay: Kaushik Ganguly Cinematography: Souvik Basu Editing: Subhajit Singha Music: Indraadip Dasgupta Cast: Joya Ahsan, Abir Chatterjee, Kaushik Ganguly, Lama