Why Mainak loved Abby Sen
Mainak Bhaumik takes a nostalgic trip through time with Abby Sen
- Published 21.11.15
As a fan of Back to the Future (1985), I totally get a filmmaker’s urge, considering today’s WhatsApp-obsessed world, to want to make a film that harks back to a simpler time. Atanu Ghosh’s film Abby Sen does just that, using science fiction as a narrative device or framework to simply transport a character back to a more uncomplicated time, in the ’80s.
It seems Ghosh isn’t alone in his apparent longing for nostalgia; as while flipping channels the other day I also randomly discovered this comedy TV show called The Goldbergs which too harks back, but with a different narrative altogether, to a childhood growing up in the ’80s. I only mention this, as being an ’80s kid myself, I totally get it and appreciate Ghosh’s nostalgia trip. And in the case of Abby Sen, the nostalgia trip was literally an actual “trip” through time. Ghosh’s cinematic memory of ’80s Calcutta hits those familiar evocative notes which are always welcome.
Plot-wise, the story’s pretty interesting as it begins, I believe in the Calcutta of 2013, when the lead character — Abby Sen, an academically brilliant, science fiction film buff and TV producer — is faced with an unfortunate predicament of having lost his seventh job in a row. Ouch! I know. Sad and stressful. Perhaps this was the filmmaker’s narrative metaphor for expressing the general unpredictability and uncertainty of these modern times? A sentiment shared by most, I’m sure.
Anyway, there’s this bohemian scientist character (Chiranjit) who Abby comes across, who takes him back in time over three decades, to the Calcutta of 1980 in search of employment. The story takes off from there with a series of events that have an impact on Abby’s personal and professional life.
Some of the computer-generated imagery in the film is quite impressive and just goes to show how far Bengali cinema has come technologically speaking, and otherwise. The music by Joy Sarkar is also very good. But good acting always wins one over, and it’s pretty clear, not just from what I thought but from what I hear the general feedback on the film is, that one of the main strengths of this science-fiction drama is the acting.
Abir Chatterjee as the leading man Abby Sen is charming, gorgeous (I looove the beard brother!), likeable and most importantly believable, which is key considering the science-fiction context of the narrative as it jumps through space and time in a world of fantasy and make-believe. I especially liked how his character is a science-fiction film fan. I thought that was a nice touch.
The beautiful Raima Sen is, as always, a treat to watch as she essays the role of Abby’s leading lady, Parama. Arunima Ghosh is also wonderful and strong as Abby’s wife Sromy. The casting of Chiranjit as the scientist was a pleasant surprise, as he added his characteristic personal flair to this unusual character. Kanchan Mallick as Bila, Abby’s friend, deserves a special mention as does Neel Mukhopadhyay for his screen presence. Bratya Basu convincingly plays Niladri, Abby’s boss in the 1980s. Biswanath Basu is as expected first-rate as he takes on the role of Abby’s co-worker. Priyanka, as Srirupa, is also very good, and it’s wonderful to see her blossoming as a pretty young actress. Paran Bandopadhyay as Dhiraj and Bhaswar Chatterjee as Samik were both well cast and, like the rest of the actors, give this film a strong support structure with their performances.
After films like Angshumaner Chhobi, Takhan Teish, Rupkatha Noy and Ek Phaali Rodh, Atanu Ghosh’s latest offering, Abby Sen, is an interesting diversion that steps into new areas with new possibilities.
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