The ghosts messed up Bhobishyoter Bhoot
Ghosts have always been the safest tools of protest. After all, they have no form, shape and size, best to say no identity. Hardly anyone takes them seriously unless they are part of horror movies scaring you off in the middle of eerie nights. Hence the spirits as they are called (not the spirits that have fetched Bengal the highest sales revenue this year!) are the best characters to convey ‘protest’ messages against social atrocities, emotional voids or even political abuse of power. I have always been fascinated by these formless forms, never scared, rather amused. Since I read Oscar Wilde’s Canterville Ghost, my respect for the whole ghost community rose manifold, for I had never come across a ghost that speaks of the highest form of spiritual thoughts through his interaction with a young girl who loves and cares for him. Next came Casper, the playful ghost family, perfect humour that falls short of any scary ghost movie.
And closer home my all-time favourite, Satyajit Ray’s Bhooter Raja. The other movie that created an impact much later was ‘Bhooter Bhobishwat,’ contemporary, chic and against the Promoter Raaj of Kolkata, portrayed in a humorous way. No wonder hence I went with a lot of hope to see the same director’s Bhobishyoter Bhoot. I was thoroughly disappointed, not just with the sloppy script, but the failed editing and a sort of agenda driven dialogues that got lost in a pot-pourri of various issues. Anik Dutta perhaps would have done justice to the script, had he done a mega serial on ghosts with each episode speaking of a plethora of issues he tried to highlight, from corrupt medical fraternity, to Tolabaaz politics, to the failure of communists to the attire change of RSS and even shutting down of single screen movie halls.
A political satire needs to have a focus. Movies like Hirak Rajar Deshe have a timeless appeal, because Ray in his utmost intelligent and subtle style brought out the diseased format of communism and how it is repressive towards the working class, how a king tries to throttle the voices of dissent. To make a political satire a director of Anik Dutta’s caliber should have been more intelligent and subtle in his handling. Words as they say are the best tool of protest, and these very words have failed Bhobishyoter Bhoot. Even well-known actors like Barun Chanda, Paran Bandopadhyay, Sabyasachi Chakraborty, Moonmoon Sen failed to do any justice to the roles, because they got no chance, other than delivering some sentences, many of which were straight on your face, conversations that many of us probably discuss at the dinner table. Then why go to a movie? I have never felt so much pity for the ghosts and am sure they too never felt so helpless! The frames of the movie move to and fro, with no parity and no sequence.
Who are the protagonists? And who are the criminals? Who are the oppressed? We are left with several questions and no answers. Maoist students who lead a protest against the Film City being built by confiscating lands from farmers, those who sit in a travel company’s plush office thinking of organizing ghost walks, or the journalist who refuses to give up his ideology and starts a daily of his own and gets murdered in the process? The movie tries to address too many issues in too short a space and time, failing to pass on any message or create any impression on the audience.
Frankly had not the movie been stopped from being screened, Bhobishyoter Bhoot would have died its own death within a week of release, as it lacks the finesse of film-making.