Anirban Bhattacharya’s feature debut, Ballabhpurer Roopkotha, has been the talk of the town for the last three weeks. Set in the sleepy town of Ballabhpur, the story revolves around Bhupati Ray (played by Satyam Bhattacharya), the last remaining member of the local royal family, and his desperate attempt to sell his crumbling mansion. What ensues is a freewheeling laugh riot.
We pick five rib-tickling moments from Ballabhpurer Roopkotha that will leave you in splits.
Crippled by a huge debt, Bhupati wants to sell off his palace to soap baron B.P. Haldar (Sandip Bhattacharya). He seeks the help of his creditors in this pursuit. Bhupati’s manservant Monohar (Shyamal Chakraborty) trains the creditors to masquerade as royal servants. The elaborate scheme involves antiquated gestures and dialogues, reminiscent of stage performances based on the Mughal era. One of the ‘servants’ is required to shout ‘Hei… Hop’ before marching to the door and opening it for the guests. The innocent villager fails miserably at his task, prompting enormous belly laughs.
Swapna rebukes Raghu-Da
The resident ghost of the Ballabhpur palace, Raghu-da, is fond of comely lasses. Upon noticing B.P. Haldar’s daughter, Chhanda (Surangana Bandyopadhyay), in the house, he woos her by making an appearance in royal attire. He recites from Kalidas’ Sanskrit verses to impress her, but Chhanda’s mother, Swapna (Jhulan Bhattacharya), mistakes Raghu-da for Bhupati and rebukes him for trying to seduce her daughter. The genial ghost flees the scene as Swapna carries on with her verbal assault, daring Raghu-da to try some of that ‘Sanskrit shloka’ on her. Jhulan Bhattacharya’s typical Bengali mother act will leave you guffawing even after the end credits.
Dewan Saheb’s moustache
The gang manages to convince Sanjib Basu (Debraj Bhattacharya), Bhupati’s friend from college, to play the estate manager. Bhupati introduces him as ‘Dewan Saheb’ to B.P. Haldar. During the course of the night, Chhanda is awed by Dewan Saheb’s moustache and comes close to discovering that it is a false appendage. But Sanjib is able to save his reputation with a smart move. Later that night, the Haldar family comes back to the palace after their car breaks down. The unsuspecting Sanjib is caught unawares with the piece of make-up. He, however, saves the day by blaming the ‘royal whims’ for shaving off his facial hair at such an ungodly hour.
Soap baron’s weak spot for history and his quips
B.P. Haldar is eager to land the derelict mansion of Ballabhpur to outsmart one of his rivals who has recently bought an ancient mansion in Birbhum. He is fascinated with history because “we are forgetting our own past, history is being rewritten”. Before ringing the doorbell of the palace, he surveys the property from outside and gets mightily impressed by its ruinous state. ‘Capital’ he keeps muttering to himself. The sight of a makeshift bed covered in dust is ‘majestic’ for him. Similarly, a bullock-cart is ‘splendid’ for the eccentric businessman. After Bhupati reveals that this mansion is 400 years old, Haldar keeps parroting the year in comical regularity at every opportunity.
Manohar, who was wearing the robes of the royal butler during the visit of the Haldars, switched back to his shabby attire soon after they left the palace. But he was taken by surprise when the Haldar family returned to the palace. To keep up with the act, Bhupati came up with another lie — he described the shabbily-dressed person as Manohar's twin brother, Harihar. Cut to the night of the climax. When the housemates are frantically searching for Raghu-da, B.P. Haldar and Manohar come face to face in a hilarious scene. Haldar asks Manohar to identify himself — “Mano na Hari” (Are you Manohar or Harihar) — and pat comes the reply: “Ami Manohari” (I am Manohari). One of the wittiest exchanges in the film, this scene is enlivened by smart deliveries by Sanjib Bhattacharya and Shyamal Chakraborty.