TAROKAR MRITYU – A GOOD PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER
Dr. Shoma A. Chatterji expounds upon the intricacies of the psychological thriller crafted in the Bengali language, aptly titled TAROKAR MRITYU.
After a considerable gap, Bengali cinema is witness to a well-rounded and balanced psychological thriller Tarokar Mrityu which means – “Death of a Heroine”. It has been directed by noted director Haranath Chakraborty who has regaled audiences right across the state of West Bengal with his earlier films focused on unabashed mainstream narratives and stars which were box office hits. Haranath is a veteran in the Bengali film industry having begun his directorial innings more than two decades back and has directed more than 30 feature films till date.
Tarokar Mrityu has been produced by Surinder Films, a popular production house in the Bengali film industry. The title Tarokar Mirtyu is not a literally applicable title but rather, the name of a mainstream Bengali film based on a story and screenplay within the film by Atin (Ritwik Chakraborty) which has turned out to become a box office hit and has led to a possible Bollywood assignment for Atin. While he basks in the glory of his rising fame, Atin’s wife, Easha (Parno Mitra) is suffering from an acute case of depression resulting from her hallucinations of a young man she sees/imagines seeing everywhere. She is into psychological counselling but without much effect. Hallucinations, however, are not her only problem. Her panic is traced back to her terrible fear of her husband who she constantly accuses of being a murderer and is scared stiff that one fine day, he will kill her because she knows a dangerous secret of his. “I cannot live with a killer” she keeps repeating while also having surreal visions of the dead body of a young man – on the commode, in the pool, or, being dragged across the floor in the cinema hall where Tarokar Mrityu is celebrating its silver jubilee. She is terrified of her husband who takes full advantage of this fear and keeps her in a constant state of panic.
Atin then decides to take his wife along with him on a holiday to Kalimpong to write a new story. A very reluctant Easha has no choice but to agree. They put up in a holiday home which has a bad name for stories about a female ghost haunting the bungalow. The beautiful ambience of the hilly place with its trees, the beautiful bungalow, the glass windows looking out into the garden, the swish of the curtains and the forest, the eerie sounds of the wind, the chirping of the birds escalates the ambience of suspense, danger and panic that runs through the film. The entire scenario which enriches the film with a rich air of mystery changes dramatically when Easha disappears suddenly and Atin insists that his wife Easha is dead and goes directly to the local police station to lodge a missing complaint. The station officer immediately summons his ex-boss, Rajen Mitra (Ranjit Mullick) the no-nonsense ex-cop with a regal and no-holds-barred attitude. He steps into the bungalow and begins asking awkward questions like- where is the body, why did Atin go to the police station instead of going to the local hospital and so on. Atin gets increasingly nervous with Rajen Mitra’s line of investigation and questioning. Finally, Mitra and the local police inspector manage to solve the riddle and Atin is arrested for an earlier murder of a young man a few years ago and the attempted murder of his wife.
Image: Parno Mitra
Tarokar Mrityu is a psychological thriller which has elements of horror which keeps the audience’s adrenalin constantly on the rise till it drops suddenly when the confusing pieces of the jigsaw puzzle fall in place. With the entry of Rajen Mitra, with Ranjit Mullick given a complete makeover from his established ‘good gentleman’ image to a ruthless, frank-speaking and very intelligent detective, the film changes channels from the possible crime to its investigation and final solution. This switches audience attention from the question of “who did it?” which the audience has already guessed to “how will the killer be caught and how will he save himself?” which are the main features of the psychological thriller. How this is achieved in the absence of Easha’s body and no established evidence of a murder having been committed makes the film for an interesting viewing and a dramatic climax.
Other than creating a chilling murder mystery, Haranath Chakraborty and his team have woven in several other socially relevant sub-plots such as plagiarism leading to murder, wife abuse, adultery, hallucinations, creation of a ghost which does not exist and so on. Supriyo Dutta’s magical cinematography, Sujoy Dutta Ray’s smooth editing and Nabarun Bose’s music have enriched the film with an air of the eerie, the unreal and the illusionary. Sound effects like the sound of an incessantly leaking tap somewhere, eerie sounds of something falling with a crash somewhere and such ambient sounds heighten and sustain the suspense of the film.
Ranjit Mullick in a completely differently shaped character, stands out with a brilliant performance asking for tea and biscuits to stay off his diabetes, or, lying through his hat when he tells his wife that he is not smoking at all over the phone, or, directly beginning to suspect Atin and using his very strategy to capture him for his crimes. The elderly husband-wife chemistry has been worked out beautifully with brief touches.
Both Ritwik Chakraborty as Atin and Parno Mitra as Easha have performed with complete conviction with Parno’s constant state of living in horror complemented with Ritwik’s constant threatening remaining unabated so long as Easha does not go missing. However, the sudden twist in the tale is a bit melodramatic considering the box office, perhaps.
The final tip of the hat goes to Haranath Chakraborty and to the concept and creative director Hindol Chakraborty to present us with a powerful psychological suspense thriller after quite some time.
Image courtesy: the production house - Surinder Films.