Film Thoughts: TOPE – THE BAIT (2016)

Tope – The Bait, Buddhadeb Dasgupta‘s latest film is reasonably fast paced and is theatrical in terms of the characters sketched, unlike his past films. But without doubt everything about Tope is a masterpiece. Of course, the pacing of a film has nothing to do with the artistic charisma it can display. A master filmmaker just makes it right with his vision and cinematic excellence. And we must all thank the gutsy Pawan Kanodia for producing such a brilliant film in today’s times.

Tope holds on to the psyche right from its first frame – An old gramophone within a frame of faith welcoming the vast expanses of human mind – just makes you sit and wonder as the film that unfolds. Just as the English name of the film – The Bait, suggests the film explores the human nature of being always in the search of a decoy – a hope – in order to fulfill many inherent desires. The dialogues in the film are both humane and thought provoking at the same time. And the characterizations in the film are top notch.

While #Goja played by Chandan Roy Sanyal would stand out for the range it had, all the other actors are just fantastic. Goja’s philosophies sitting from the top of a tree is something to reflect upon. He represented a man possessed with a lot of knowledge to show the right direction to many lost souls but limited resources to bring any noticeable change. He was a man in tune with the nature but of course out of sync with mankind. Hence easily ignored by the “learned men” from his village.

The mono scene of the local king, etched brilliantly by Sudipto Chatterjee, (whose ground is fast slipping with the changing political scenes of the land) aptly displayed the psychological situations of a dying power center that commanded respected once upon a time.

When a young documentary filmmaker visits the palace of the king and sensing the unfulfilled desires sneaks an opportunity to be intimate with the lonely and desolate queen (portrayed aesthetically by #AnanyaChatterjee) she so un-passionately responds back – “Is this all you wanted”? This comes so much as a jerk to the contemporary expectations and explores her commitment to the silhouetted man in her dreams who comes to her every night and gazes from a distance.

Paoli Dam‘s “ae Munni” will resound a lot. Her character, her husband and her daughter – Munni in the film showed a very macro view on the migrating world of people in search of livelihood and the various perils they might have to meet.

Alokananda Dasgupta‘s music is really haunting. It was used so intelligently throughout the film. Asim Bose‘s cinematography shows you the hinterlands of India like no other. To me the films opening scene and the one where the silhouted lover appears behind the window and the grills part away beckoning the queen are standouts. No doubt the film went on to be a part of all top notch international festivals of the world including Toronto, Kerala, BFI London, Kolkata and many more. Not surprisingly though, it was quietly omitted from the #IndianPanorama or the #NationalFilmAwards for 2016.

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The closing scenes had a lot of conviction that you would also end up rooting for this film to go out and reach many more audience. But sadly there were just SIX more people apart from us in the hall. For me taking the entire journey from Purbalok (where I was staying) on EM Bypass to #NazrulTirtha in New Town was totally worth for the only day I had in Kolkata without my film’s work. Yet the phrase “the land of art and literature” sounded so hollow from within the cinema halls. Dear people of Kolkata you are blessed to have some of the greatest artistes of the world. Do not disrespect them with your misplaced attachments.

The film is one of the finest paintings using the audio-visual medium. It was much awaited and I am happy that I could watch it in theaters. I so much wish this film to release in my state – Odisha as well.

For me the film was a celebration ‘in’ solitude (of the cinema hall, sadly). Trailer below.

*** Blog Image Courtesy: From the Internet. No intention to misuse or commercialize.

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