Quest for simple but sublime truths
If a million people see my movie, I hope they see a million different movies
— Quentin Tarantino
That's the art of film-making. A neatly woven script is made out of two simple short stories from Bengali literature. What Bratya Basu and Ujjwal Chattopadhyay have done a few times quite successfully on stage, they have repeated in the film, 'Dictionary'. Director Bratya contemporizes the stories written by Buddhadeb Guha, where one family stays in remote Barabhum, in the lap of nature and the other in the action area of Rajarhat, in a concrete jungle. Suman (Arna Mukhopadhyay), brother-in-law of a budding businessman Mak Chatterjee (Mosharraf Karim) and brother of Srimati (Poulomi Basu) gets involved in a relationship with Smita (Nusrat Jahan), the young, educated and beautiful wife of a reputed forest officer Ashok Sanyal (Abir Chattopadhyay), posted at Purulia. Smita is bowled over by the intellectual aura of Suman, a college teacher. Makarkranti (Mak)is a 'self-made' man who thinks life cannot prosper without knowing how to speak in English and without following their etiquettes. Things take an interesting turn when overtly protective Srimati arranges a quick marriage for her brother Suman to end his fling with Smita Boudi. Mak learns a valuable lesson from his son when he points out the mistake in the bank manager's use of an English word.
What makes Bratya different from other film directors in his fourth film, 'Dictionary', is his ability to narrate a story which looks apparently simple but haunts with its depth in looking at the dynamics of relationships. The film progresses with a nice rhythm unfolding two parallel narratives. The surreal dream sequences created in the film remind us of Lorca, 'To burn with desire and keep quiet about it is the greatest punishment we can bring on ourselves.' Silence also is treated with great artistry and much care as Ashok and Smita's chemistry leaves a lot unsaid in the film. Their eyes and body language express the growing torment and unbearable pain they suffer. Smita's boldness is interestingly projected against the perfect housewife Srimati who holds Smita responsible for her brother's straying out. Again Mak's strong reply to the bank manager highlights how he overcomes his male ego and selfishness to understand his son better.
Mosharraf Karim, as an actor has stolen the limelight as Mak Chatterjee in the film. Basu has exploited his acting prowess like never before. Every move of Karim in the film has made him special and truly loveable in the film. The underacting by Abir Chattopadhyay and a strong portrayal of Smita by Nusrat Jahan have made the characters remarkably believable. Poulomi Basu has given a great performance and Arna Mukhopadhyay too has his act strongly in control. Both are extremely talented theatre artists who have a long way to go in the realm of cinema too. Every other actor has worked hard to contribute to the good work of the director.
Cinematographer Shirsha Roy has wonderfully rolled his camera to give a unique dimension to the cinematic language of the film. Anirban Maity's editing skills have not just made the film simple but attractive. Prabuddha Banerjee deserves to be lauded for adding a sense of thrill, somberness and isolation in his music score that allows the characters to reach a point of catharsis. Partha Majumdar's adept combination of sets smoothly transfers the audience from rustic to chaotic life and vice versa. Bratya's 'Dictionary' with its slow-burning pace and deep-rooted philosophy shows his passion and care for films thereby broadening his creative space further.