WBRi Movie Review: NOBEL CHOR (2012) Mithun Chakraborty Steals the Show!

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Nobel Chor Bengali Movie at Priya Cinema Kolkata Premiere
Nobel Chor Premiere at Priya Cinema Hall, Calcutta

Calcutta, Feb 17, 2012 (Washington Bangla Radio / Penning Creations) The relatively well-defined line of demarcation that once existed between Bengali parallel / arthouse cinema and mainstream commercial flicks is fast disappearing in the contemporary Tollywood industry. Over the last few years, classy movies like ‘Antaheen’, ‘Kaalbela’ and ‘Iti Mrinalini’ have been successful in proving that, if a movie is truly well-made, it would definitely appeal to both the classes as well as the masses.

Gaurav Pandey's (interview) 2010 film ‘Shukno Lonka’ also starring Mithun Chakraborty had been one of the most critically acclaimed films of recent times and the movie had managed to set the cash-registers at the box-office jingling too. Director Suman Ghosh, who had earlier made the multiple-award winning ‘Padakkhep’ and followed it up with the brilliantly crafted ‘Dwando’, now teams up with Mithun Chakrabarty for his latest flick, ‘Nobel Chor’.

Trailer - Nobel Chor (Bengali, 2011)

With the film already having won the prestigious Best Indian Film Award at the Bengaluru International Film Festival, expectations among cinegoers were understandably high (very!) from this film. So, does ‘Nobel Chor’ manage to live up to the enormous hype and buzz that preceded its release? Thankfully, it does, for the film is brilliant in most parts!

‘Nobel Chor’ is the story of a common village simpleton ‘Bhanu’ (Mithun Chakrabarty) who leads a poverty-stricken, yet contented, life with his wife (Soma Chakraborty) and his only son, ‘Ratul’. The illiterate ‘Bhanu’ is blissfully unaware of the tremendous media tension and hoopla that is going on in the city due to the theft of Rabindranath Tagore’s Nobel Prize (yes, the film is set in 2004!). As fate would have it, the real thieves, in their hurry to escape, drop the medal in front of ‘Bhanu’s house. Our simple-minded protagonist duly discovers the Nobel next morning (having no clue regarding what the shiny gold medal is all about!) and takes it over to the ‘Master Moshai’ (Soumitro Chattopadhyay) of the village. A learned man, ‘Master moshai’ immediately realizes the significance of ‘Bhanu’s discovery and promptly calls for a joint meeting of the elders of the village to decide what the latter’s next plan of action would be.

It is ultimately finalized that ‘Bhanu’ would go to Calcutta and deposit the Nobel Prize to the chief minister of the state. ‘Master moshai’ also writes a letter to that effect (addressing the CM, of course!) and ‘Bhanu’ is advised to stay with ‘Hari’ (Saswata Chatterjee), a fellow-villager, who had settled down in the city some time back.

The action now shifts to Calcutta, where ‘Bhanu’ (after a rather arduous search!) finally manages to arrive at ‘Hari’s house. ‘Hari’ and his wife, ‘Monu’ (Sudipta Chakrabarty) are (rather understandably!) extremely eager to get a glimpse of the prized medal. On ‘Monu’s advice, ‘Bhanu’ conceals the Nobel at a secret place (known only to himself) and is convinced by ‘Hari’ that the best idea for everyone concerned would be to sell the medal, since it was hardly an easy task to meet the Chief Minister (for starters!), while convincing the authorities that ‘Bhanu’ is not the actual thief might also prove tricky. Tumultuous events continue to happen to Bhanu around his possession of a national treasure, the disposition of which forms the rest of the engaging story.

‘Nobel Chor’ features uniformly superb performances from all members of its cast. Soma Chakrabarty, as ‘Bhanu’s wife, manages to look completely authentic as a hard-working village housewife, whose life goes completely off the rails due to circumstances over which she has no control whatsoever. Saswata Chatterjee charms in his role of ‘Hari’ in the film. The actor quite beautifully balances the basically greedy nature of his character with a fantastic comic timing. Sudipta Chakrabarty, as ‘Monu’, has only a few scenes but impresses in her brief role. Soumitro Chattopadhyay, as ‘Master moshai’ is as reliable as ever. Harsh Chhaya, as ‘Raj’, adeptly portrays the character of a cunning and suave businessman onscreen. In a small cameo, Rupa Ganguli, as ‘Diya’ sparkles. As a loving wife, who, however, has a strong will of her own, the actress manages to get herself noticed in the relatively small screen time that had been provided to her character. The two child artists, as the sons of ‘Bhanu’ and ‘Raj’ respectively, do a fair enough job.

The man who stands head and shoulders above all the others in ‘Nobel Chor’ is Mithun Chakrabarty. Cast as the main lead character ‘Bhanu’ in the film, the veteran actor rolls back the years with yet another virtuoso performance. The manner in which Mithun brings to life the perplexity of ‘Bhanu’ on coming across the Nobel Prize all of a sudden, his gullible nature and the overall tragedy that ultimately befalls him (and his family!) is indeed worth a round of applause. If the first half of the movie saw Mithun blending in a dash of fun and laughter in his performance, the post-interval phase witnesses the actor at his sombre best, desperately trying to save himself from the treacherous and scheming urban people and simply wanting to return to his village (which fate does not allow him to). After a slightly disappointing ‘Ami Subhash Bolchhi’, Mithun is back to his best in ‘Nobel Chor’ and indeed, the entire film stands upon his performance. Well played, Mithun-da!

Outdoor Film Poster of NOBEL CHOR in Kolkata
An Outdoor Film Poster of NOBEL CHOR in Kolkata

Director Suman Ghosh, once again reaffirms his growing stature as one of the finest storytellers in the contemporary Bengali film industry with ‘Nobel Chor.’ The narrative moves ahead at a brisk pace and the polished screenplay and smart editing add to the style of the movie. The classy touch of Suman Ghosh can be detected at several points in the movie, with the character of ‘Manmatho Pagla’ (Sankar Debnath), the village madman, being a masterclass. The keen eye for detail that the young director possesses is also easily discernible in the film. Camerawork, by Barun Mukherjee, is excellent too, particularly in the scenes set in the village.

There are a couple of scenes, which, however, strike out as rather odd in ‘Nobel Chor’ (more so, because the rest of the film is so good!). Firstly, in the scene when ‘Bhanu’ is being chased (and has been cornered!) by gun-wielding goons, it is hardly believable that one of the thugs flatly refuses to shoot ‘Bhanu’, simply because the latter is carrying a photo of Rabindranath ‘Thakur’ (yes, emphasis on that!). The reason why ‘Bhanu’ takes the trouble of digging up a hole on the side of a street and conceals the Nobel Prize there (when he had plenty of other places to store away the medal!) is also left unexplained to the viewers. However, these minor glitches are easily overshadowed by the overall excellence of the movie.

Outdoor Movie Poster of NOBEL CHOR in Kolkata
Outdoor Movie Poster of NOBEL CHOR in Kolkata

‘Nobel Chor’ features a good musical score (composed by Bickram Ghosh) that adds to the charm of this flick. The songs in the movie capture the mood of the film perfectly and help the story to move forward. While ‘O Robithakur go’ (rendered quite beautifully by Gautam Das Baul) is easily the standout track in the movie, ‘Ei Probhaatey Robi-r saathey’ is distinctly hummable too. The other songs are also situational and blend in nicely with the film.

‘Nobel Chor’ is a fine example of a sophisticated, smart and touching Bengali film and the actor-director duo of Mithun Chakrabarty and Suman Ghosh manage to take the movie to an altogether higher level. The excellent performances from the other actors, the smart narrative, the beautiful cinematography and the soothing musical score of ‘Nobel Chor’ guarantee that, if you are a lover of good Bengali cinema, this is definitely one you should go for!

The actual Nobel Prize had never been recovered and had to be replaced with a replica in 2004. ‘Nobel Chor’ with all its charm and elegance, however, makes sure that it would not be lost from the minds of its viewers for a long, long time!