Review: Chander Pahar

Chander Pahar (Mountains Of The Moon, Dir.: Kamaleshwar Mukherjee; Cast: Dev, Gerard Rudolf et al.)

Kamaleshwar Mukherjee follows up his masterclass, Meghe Dhaka Tara, with the action-adventure piece, Chander Pahar. While both films are in a way about exploring, breaking new grounds and striving to touch new heights, Meghe Dhaka Tara was about intensity and introspection whereas Chander Pahar‘s exploration is more physical and geographical in nature.

Meghe Dhaka Tara drew its inspiration from the maverick filmmaker Ritwik Ghatak. Chander Pahar‘s source material is no less illustrious. The movie is based on the eponymous novel by Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay, another of whose work is already immortalised in the form of the bildungsroman Apu trilogy by the legendary Satyajit Ray. Chander Pahar is about Shankar, an adventure-seeking young man from Bengal in British-ruled India, whose thirst for the uncharted leads him to Africa.

In the perspective of Bengali or even Indian cinema, Chander Pahar will score remarkably high on the cinematography and the sequences involving animals

Kamaleshwar Mukherjee and his team do a commendable job of breathing life into the adventures of Shankar. In the perspective of Bengali or even Indian cinema, Chander Pahar will score remarkably high on the cinematography and the sequences involving animals. More importantly, on a tougher scale of contemporary world cinema, it does still hold its own, though a few sequences of shoddy special effects ruin the overall experience. It is indeed sad, because having not held back financially and after boasting of some breath-taking scenes involving elephants, lion and dangerous snakes, it is a pity that a few minutes of special effects which are not up to the mark are what will prevent Chander Pahar from being counted as world-class.

The first half is taut with action, with Shankar’s story bursting forth and running into one dangerous encounter after another. As the intermission draws with the promise of a riveting mission, one hopes for the action to resume with renewed vigour. When the action does resume, it is the vigour which is found wanting. And this is where Chander Pahar falters – as it fails to better the experience of the first half. The climax, despite the heroics of the protagonist and a vastly improved Dev, fails to end the film on the proverbial high.

Having said that, Chander Pahar remains, notwithstanding its flaws, a superb film with some memorable moments. Dev, in a move of brilliant casting, fits the character to a tee and turns in a splendid performance, coming into his own in the final half hour to hold the film together on his lone broad shoulders. Dev brings to life Shankar perfectly with his spirited interpreation well complemented by his physicality.

The magnitude of this venture has been the talk of the town in the Bengali film industry for some time now. One only hopes that this will be the first of many such grand dreams to see the light of day. Chander Pahar has certainly showed enough promise to encourage more creators and producers in Bengal to dream in scales this large.

Chander Pahar IMDb Link

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