Tolly review: Atanu Ghosh's Robibaar takes a leaf out of the lives of lovers separated long ago
Robibaar is a film that should not be seen in a hurry. One should approach it with the grand slow pace of cooking biryani, where a slow flame infuses fragrance and taste.
The storyline is not important in the movie – it does not have a gripping plot.
The National Award that Atanu Ghosh won with Mayurakshi in 2018 made him bold without which he could not have gone for the experiment. For Robibaar, he chose a storyline and treatment that is distinctly unlike what the Bengali film industry usually deals with.
There is a hero, Ashimabha, (deftly played by Prosenjit Chatterjee) who has a distinct streak of a villain, a fraudster, an expert in forgery, in fact, one who files untruths in insurance claims and effortlessly and nonchalantly puts someone else’s signature on a piece of legal document. He is dark and dodgy yet sensitive and vulnerable.
The female lead Sayani Sen played by the talented actor Jaya Ahsan leaves an equally strong mark as a woman who approaches her ex with the baggage of past trauma and uncertainty with the ulterior motive of making him speak out his heart for a fitting final chapter of a book on the psychology of a fraudster.
Both Chatterjee and Ahsan turn out stellar performance without which Ghosh’s bold exercise would have fallen flat on its face.
The plot has no distinct storyline and the camera languidly follows the characters throughout the length of a sultry tropical summer day interspersed with rain. The director uses dark shades that is in keeping with – but never screams to announce it – the dark shades of the male protagonist.
The filmmaker assiduously stays away from using flashbacks that are expected when the tale involves a couple who have been separated for 15 long years.
The director takes the viewer with the camera but there are no incidents that he or she expects to unfold. There is no eventuality and finally the realisation is that life is a journey of emotions and for emotions. Otherwise, why would Asimava, who had appointed a contract killer to eliminate himself try to cling to a woman with whom he parted ways a decade and a half ago? And why would Sayani, now a hard-nosed corporate lawyer, would be tormented by the deliberate termination of her pregnancy?
Debjyoti Mishra’s music is an essential element of Ghosh’s experiment. The director could have perhaps tightened a subplot that was of no real significance to the 118-minute film thus taking off conspicuous flab.
Films are often remembered for cinematic moments and one where Jaya Ahsan carefully steps over the letters Prosenjit had written to her but never delivered and that were strewn all over the floor will leave a mark in the mind for quite a while. One wishes Robibaar had some more of them.