Rating: ***(3 stars)
The exceedingly prolific director Srijit Mukherjee makes genre leaps so suddenly and so steep, there’s always the risk of him slipping into the crack. This time in Dwitiyo Purush he makes the leap. But just about. The film is dark and very consciously contemporary with a very prominent homosexual undercurrent running across the plot like a scampering rat on a sinking ship not knowing which way to go.
As a sequel to the 2011 thriller Baishe Srabon, Dwitiyo Purush has ample ammunition at its disposal to fire some knock-outs. A cop-serial killer thriller needs a hero and a villain who can match paces. Parambrata Chatterjee as the cop with serious marital issues seems conflicted by the diversity of the material that the plot throws forward. He is uncharacteristically hammy in the melodramatic end-game, unsure of how the character should respond to the shocking developments.
On the surface Srijit explores age-old cinematic dynamics of the killer and his nemesis. On another level, this a story of a crumbling marriage where the wife, played with disappointing placidity and borderline absentmindedness by Raima Sen, throws the ultimate insult at her husband about the “lousy 15-minute sex” that they don’t have any longer.
Not to be left behind, the husband reminds his wife of how expensive rice is these days when she walks off the dinner table in a huff.
Ouch to that.
What works better is the mentor-pupil rapport that grows between Parambrata and his junior played by Gaurav Chakraborty. Even this sensibly developed relationship comes to a messy deadened when towards the finale, director Srijit Mukherjee and his co-writer Suvonkar Bannerjee want to shock audiences at any cost.
The film gets it jolted viewership. But also leaves the plot shaken. The denouement is so farfetched it would have been squirm-worthy were it not for Srijit’s propensity to project emotional anxiety in the squalor and bustle of Kolkata’s bylanes and streets.
However the killer Khoka played by Anirban Bhattacharya compares poorly with the psychopathic killer in the recent Mardaani 2, a film to which the plot and characters of Dwitiyo Purush bear more than a passing resemblance. The talented Abir Chatterjee is wasted in an ill-developed role. But the character’s fixation on food analogies is just about the most interesting characteristic in this engrossing but dissatisfying thriller.
Dwitiyo Purush has violent scenes of crime and some passionate gay kissing which do not necessarily add up to making this Srijit’s most mature film to date. Perhaps his darkest yet for sure. Watch out for singer-parliamentarian Baabul Supriyo as a sadistic cop who believes in third-degree torture and capital punishment. He seems to be the only character who knows his mind .