That actresses are vying for director Rituparno Ghosh's attention has been apparent for some time. In his latest film, a whodunnit, Ghosh again has given all the plum roles - the best three in fact, to women. And the number of actresses who have gone to win National Awards and increased recognition for roles in his films, it is no surprise that they do.
And for this film, popularly believed to be inspired from an Agatha Christie novel, the big names included erstwhile oomph queens Sharmila Tagore and Raakhee, along with current favourite, Nandita Das.
The film revolves around Padmini Choudhury - a retired film actress who is producing her second husband's Sambit Roy's directorial venture. The film is to star the actress Kakoli, who is notorious for her drug abuse.
However on the very first day, the day of the shubho muhurat, or auspicious launch of the film, Kakoli is poisoned to death. This of course throws everyone concerned into a tizzy, including a rookie reporter out on her first film assignment, Mallika Sen. As Mallika had accompanied Kakoli home for an interview, she was the sole witness to the actress's collapse and death.
And thereafter starts the search for her killer, a long and winding search, lasting almost three hours on celluloid. Ghosh, whose films have been highly acclaimed, remains technically proficient as ever in this film.
Besides the theme, which is lightweight one for someone of Ghosh's caliber, what detracts is the length of the film. The pace is slightly slow, and large cast makes keeping track occasionally difficult.
However as a carefully crafted and filmed product the film has few flaws. The performances, especially by Tagore and Raakhee as Mallika's aunt and amateur detective who is able to find out the identity of the killer, are very good. Nandita Das as the reporter brings conviction to her role as well. The special appearances are interesting. Ghosh's trademarks are all there - ensemble cast, carefully scripting, etched characters, attention to detail, plausible dialogues. Good for an evening out.