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Manojder Advut Bari – a movie that fails to match the book

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Anyone who has read the book Manojder Advut Bari by veteran author Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay knows what a gem of a comedy literature it is! It not just throws you into a crazy world of a young boy Manoj and his family, but it also follows a strong storyline through its comic dialogues and actions. Unfortunately, Anindya Chattopadhyay’s movie, based on the same book with the same name, failed to hold on to that gripping storyline and interplay of several characters, each of which are equally important. The movie pathetically tried to make everyone laugh, from the beginning to the end, and failed to weave a connect between characters of Manoj’s crazy family or hold on to a family drama. It was more like watching a Bengali serial, where each day has a new story and there is no link or connect between the previous frame and the next one.

A scene from the film

Me and my cousins either slept through or were busy on our cell phones, as even the pathetic attempt of the director in invoking laughter could not keep us glued to the screen for long. The plot also did not progress logically. The film at times seemed to be intentionally absurd and descriptive. It begins with the central character Manoj (Soham Maitra) asking the author himself about a fairy tale. Frankly, the opening itself was not as gripping as the book. For Sirshendu babu’s book is not a fairy-tale. Rather, through humour it reflects the life of a small-town joint family, starting from how school cricket matches are played where the whole town comes to cheer the teams, to the experimental hybrids like Goriman, made by Manoj’s scientist uncle, to even the bori making by Manoj’s thakuma, each of which is laced with Bangaliyana and a nostalgia.

A shot from the introductory scene

Instead of doing justice to this nostalgia, the movie shifts from one frame to the other with hiccups. Just after the opening shot, one suddenly finds transported to a mansion of the erstwhile Raja of the small town, Gobinda Narayan played by Soumitra Chatterjee who shows his son Kandarpa, the route to the hidden treasure. And then the frame jumps to a photo of Kandarpa in Manoj’s family album. We all thoroughly missed the serio-comic acting of detective Baradacharan and even Manoj’s teachers, Ganesh babu and Dukhhohoron babu. These characters were not just important, but on a different plane carried different shades of human subjects, that the film could not do justice to.

Soumitra in Manojder Adbhut Bari

Though the actors have tried to put in their best, with Soumitro as the miser king and his wife, the queen who sells cow-dung cakes to earn a living, played with elan by Sandhya Roy. Bratya Basu as Borodacharan has tried his level best to bring a comic relief to the detective who goes around solving cases of cow thefts in myriad ways. As did Rajatabha Datta to the character of Bhojo Bajaru. But mis-handling of the characters, that had got so much life in Shirshendu’s original book, left us in utter disgust and we wondered why we spent so much money to watch this movie! Frankly the book has such a strong storyline, that it needed a mature treatment. Reading the book itself throws up a lot of images, the story itself unfurling in an imagery, very difficult to fathom. The movie on the other hand leads to utter chaos and confusion with various unrelated scenes and as a result the comic timing of the tale gets lost in the crowd! The movie was really advut!