They say a picture is worth a thousand words.
How much is a 15-second teaser worth, then? Not much, you’d assume.
The best part about the teaser of noted critic-turned-filmmaker Pratim D. Gupta’s Bengali film Shaheb Bibi Golaam (The Drifters) is its ability to hold your attention for those 15 seconds of your time. It’s NOT a trailer, but akin to an appetizer—a swift breeze signalling a fast-approaching storm. Deliciously dark and moody, this storm looks like a spiritual homage to Anurag Kashyap and Sriram Raghavan, the current masters of Indian noir.
There are no dialogues in this clip. But then, you don’t need any. The dimly-lit frames and the gorgeous set design point to a stylishly-poised thriller in the offing. PDG has a thing for shadows—Paanch Adhyay, his first feature film, relied on the constant interplay between light and darkness in portraying the highs and lows of a marriage. Here, the shadows become a soothsayer of sorts, constantly cajoling and teasing you to ruminate on what PDG could have up his sleeves.
Also, it doesn’t hurt with that crackerjack cast lined up. As expected, Anjan Dutt, Swastika and Ritwik receive top billing. However, it’s the other characters that intrigue me more. Vikram Chatterjee, Parno Mittra, Sudip Mukherjee and Sumanto Mukherjee add heft to the cast, leading one to wonder what godforsaken cat-and-mouse game awaits the audience.
For me, though, the teaser stands out not for what is shown to the audience, but what is not shown. A poster that says “Nagorik Convention”. The yellow taxi Ritwik’s character finds Parno in. Parno peeping on someone through a pair of binoculars (a hat tip to Ray’s Charulata) As in PDG’s earlier work, the city of Kolkata literally becomes an all-enveloping character, but unlike Paanch Adhyay and the 8 to 8 segment from X: Past Is Present, she is a lot more sinister. Using a phrase like “quietly explosive” is effectively useless, but there’s really NO other way to describe everything going on in this teaser, with its lethal cocktail of sex, drugs and thuggery.
Small wonder, then, that the film was denied a certificate by the CBFC in January. Whether the teaser points to a cult movie in the offing, is something only time will tell. Though no release date has been finalized as yet, the film will have its world premiere at the New York Indian Film Festival (NYIFF) next month.
Over to you, PDG.