I can always count on Anjanda (Dutt) to bring some form of eccentricity to Bengali cinema. Then again isn’t that what he’s known for? If we just looked at his body of work for over four decades, this is Anjanda in a nutshell. He started off in cinema as an actor in the ‘80s thanks to the likes of Mrinal Sen and Buddhadeb Dasgupta, and brought in a new school of acting that has almost become a textbook for any actor who wants to try and portray the educated urban neurotic. And just as people warmed up to him as an actor, he vanished, picked up the guitar and wooed everyone with his songwriting in the ’90s, which quite honestly, has become a household affair. There hasn’t been a single get-together of Bengalis where if there was a guitar, an Anjan Dutt song would not be sung to get the party started.
Then again just as the singer-songwriter was becoming a household name, one would expect Anjanda to bask in it. Instead, he had to abandon it and find another difficult reboot. So Anjanda flew off to become a filmmaker to tell stories about urban Calcutta and through much resistance took off with the Bong Connection all the way to Madly Bangali. Once that was set in stone, he once again changed gears and brought Byomkesh as an adult detective into the mix in 2009. Little did anyone know that this idea of the sleuth adapted from literature would become the box-office staple in the Bengali film industry where the literary sleuth would become the go-to success formula. Of course, Anjanda was the first to abandon it when it became successful only to come back with his own detective in Revolver Rohoshyo. Except for this time, he’s changed the rule books a bit here and there.
So Revolver Rohoshyo is based on Danny Detective INC, a book by Anjanda and the first film of the Danny Detective franchise. Subrata Sharma, a common-man crime reporter who lost his job, takes up work as a secretary in a dilapidated detective agency called Danny Detective INC. Appointed to find a missing girl, Tamali, Subrata begins to work the case like a total amateur and finds himself in the middle of a crime. Let’s just say Revolver Rohoshyo is less a detective film and more of the making of a detective. It’s more Jake from Chinatown than Sherlock to say the least.
The format is more pulp than fiction. And when I say pulp I mean campy as well. Subrata, the detective in question, is the Watson to the ghost of Danny who seems to be the detective. He is also a complete f**k-up (for the lack of a better phrase)
This detective is totally messed up. As I started watching the film, it made sense why Anjanda would be so excited to make it. He was writing the antithesis of the Bengali detective format with a guy who’s not that smart, a raging alcoholic, a morally questionable sleuth who can barely aim when he takes out his revolver. If anything, he’s dependent on the ghost of Danny to get back on track and his biggest obstacle is his penchant for falling for some of his pretty suspects. He’s the butt of the joke and so are you if you’re here to take things too seriously. He wants to poke and prod at the myth of the detective format. It’s almost as if you’re watching a film and unlearning how the format is supposed to work. Yes of course that is what’s expected of Anjanda — to create a new franchise which will come with tons of brickbats as well.
I was sitting in a theatre watching a hilarious film that tells a story while being self-reflexive of the story it’s going to tell. I noticed that a major section of the audience was nervous and rattled every time he would shatter the myth of the sleuth and make fun of it.
For those who enjoy the whodunit school of films, there are lots of things to look forward to. A very slick chase sequence as the film sets off with stylised angles followed by a set-up of a man who hires a detective to look for his missing wife, followed by multiple suspects and a series of plot twists. Yet what stands out the most is the chemistry between our Watson Subrata (Suprobhat Das) and his Sherlock, Danny Banerjee (Anjan Dutt). Sujan Mukherjee as the businessman who hires Subrata plays to Anjanda’s quirk as does Tnusree who plays Tamali, his wife, who Subrata has been sent to find. She changes gears as an actor as the plot unfolds. The rest of the ensemble of Kanchan Mullick, Abhijit Guha, Chandan Sen, Sudipa Basu and Tanika all add fuel to the chamber piece.
I didn’t care much for Darjeelingbut that’s Anjanda’s world and you can ask something as blah as why Darjeeling again but then again why not — it’s his world. Neel Dutt plays it subtle with the score and keeps it simple and to the point in a world of over-scored films. But if you were to ask me the main USP of the film it would undoubtedly be its wit. Anjanda for a while went into a dark zone but then when he brings out his bag of humour you can’t not smile. In a world flooded by hashtag boycotts, extreme negativity on social media posts and online trolls, Anjanda tries to tell us to have a laugh at our own expense and chill a little.
As you would expect when the box-office counter and Instagram likes are the only sources of validation left for mankind, Anjanda instead of playing to the gallery once again chose the path of most resistance. Why? Perhaps he’s not comfortable being dictated by an overtly capitalist model calledsuccess.