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Since 1st March, 1999
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Adults in wonderland

A breathtaking shot of a bunch of kids giggling, screaming and running through a lush yellow-green maize field is the opening scene of Neel Rajar Deshe, Riingo’s adventure-filled fantasy world for children. But Neel Rajar Deshe is as much for adults as it is for kids.

It’s the story of a teenaged boy and his sister escaping to the hills every day with their friends to play. But scratch the surface and there lies a murky tale of adults kidnapping a kid for money, torture and shoot-out.

Raja (Devdaan) and his sister (Tathoi) live in a quaint cottage in the hills of north Bengal with their mother (Indrani), while their father (Ashish Vidyarthi) tries to make ends meet as a cabbie in a town.

The drama begins with Raja catching a glimpse of a child’s leg in an underground pit while playing in the hills one day. Frightened but curious, Raja decides to get to the bottom of the mystery — a boy held hostage by a dreaded criminal (Rajesh Sharma).

What makes matters worse is that Raja’s father is in collusion with the scheming villain. The fantasy world comes crashing down even as the story hurtles towards a do-or-die end.

Riingo does a good job of building up the suspense, alternating a poignant mood around the captured boy (Rohit) with spine-chilling moments of Raja trying to rescue him.

There’s some superb acting from Devdaan, who mixes innocence, fear and an adventurous spirit in the right proportions.

Riingo holds viewer interest from the first to the last frame; one more plus is his brilliant cinematography of the panoramic north Bengal landscape, peaking with Raja cycling through the dark winding roads.

Bickram Ghosh’s instrumental music heightens the thrill factor.

The only thing Riingo needed to refrain from are the slow-motion scenes. He had them in Kranti and he has them here too — Raja howls and growls in slow-mo while beating up the baddie. It’s an exaggeration that’s best done away with in a good film.

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