Goutam Ghose's Shunno Awnko (2013) Bangla Movie Review

Shunyo Awnko (2013) Bengali Movie Poster

Master film-maker Goutam Ghose takes on contemporary issues of corporate greed, Maoist guerrillas and tribal people fighting to hold on to their land and roots, complex multifaceted people, sectarian conflicts, terrorism and the atrocities of security forces and more in his thought provoking Bengali feature film Shunno Anko.

Agni Bose (Priyangshu Chatterjee), a senior mining corporation executive, sets out to negotiate with economically challenged tribal dwellers for their Bauxite-rich land, but is a target of suspicion and hostility from the deprived and duped people. He meets Raka (Konkona Sen) who has switched from entertainment journalism to social reporting to better explore her country and is working on documenting the issues of the area.

Raka has assimilated well enough with the tribal population, even winning some confidence from Maoist guerrillas. With inputs he gets from Raka, Agni begins to understand the complexity of the situation, but contnues to suppress his humane instincts in favor of his assignment. Raka then takes Agni on a spectacular journey which blows away some of the corporate dust from his skin.

In the meanwhile, Agni's wife Jhilik (Priyanka Bose) struggles with loneliness and abandonment as her husband is always busy with work. A bubbly air-hostess before marriage, she fights often with Agni. Agni finally decides to take a break and go on a mountain vacation to snow-clad Manali with Jhilik. They put up at the residence of retired scientist Kabir Chowdhury who lives with his wife Laila (Lolita Chatterjee) - a devoted Muslim woman.

While the trip to Manali reignites the romance between Agni and Jhilik, a disturbing tale of possible murder by beheading of the son of their hosts in the hands of Indian security forces in Kashmir is also revealed. Laila's emotional trauma is still evident.

Soon Agni faces deeper trouble when he his called back to duty. He returns to face his toughest circumstances yet. What follows is revealed in the rest of the film.

The film belongs to its director. Goutam Ghose has effectively taken on the violence prevailing throughout India and highlighted the common and obvious result - unnecessary butchery of innocents. He also had shown that bullets do not differentiate between religions or designations and bring the same bloody outcome to everyone. Remarkably, Ghose has portrayed all this with very little actual on-screen violence.

The director, who is also the cinematographer of the film, cannot be praised enough for his lens-work and cinematic brilliance. The ambience and backgrounds of different landscapes come alive in the shots. Though filmed in a linear fashion, the succession of the acts is fascinating.

No single actor outshines the others - every actor is worth watching in this film. Again, the credit goes to the director for such wonderful casting. Priyangshu, who did not have much screen time in the director’s previous movie ‘Moner Manush’, has proved that he is now an actor to reckon with in the Bengali film industry. Priyanka Bose does not let us down on expectations of her after the highly acclaimed role in ‘Gangnor’. Being perfect comes naturally to Soumitra Cahtterjee and this film is no exception. Lolita makes herself impressive in the difficult scenes portraying her psychological disorder. Konkona's essaying of a passionate journalistic avatar (well, once again after Bollywood blockbuster ‘Page 3’) is outstanding. The director has also sketched with minute details the smaller roles of Arijit Dutta, Barun Chandra and Dhritiman Chatterjee. Every character is a revelation and has an important contribution to the storyline.

Not only ‘Shunno Awnko’ is going to be a critics' favorite, but also the audience are bound to leave the theater with a lot of introspection about the state of the country as the film will surely challenge their minds on many aspects of "modern" India.

Watch Shunyo Awnko (Act Zero) Trailer.

Starring    Priyanshu Chatterjee, Konkona Sensharma, Priyanka Bose, Soumitra Chatterjee, Lalita Chatterjee, Dhritiman Chatterjee, Arijit Dutta.
Directed By    Goutam Ghose
Written By    Goutam Ghose
Screenplay By    Goutam Ghose
Produced By    Rose Valley Films Limited

- By Jyoti Prakash Mandal (jpmandal@washingtonbanglaradio.com)