By focusing on crome, Lalbazaar underlines the larger flow of life, the threats, the good and the evil force in the society. It is a police drama that not only focuses on gruesome crimes but beautifully explores the human side of the lives in the police force
What is the story about?
Ruby is a pregnant sex worker who gets murdered. The women heads in the brothel pay a doctor to receive a death certificate when suddenly they are intervened by inspector Sabir Ahmed who orders for a post mortem. We learn that the underground mafias operate their base in the brothel, where sex workers become the victim of their operation. Suranjan Sen learns of their operation while closely observing them. Sen is portrayed as the intelligent officer, but he fails to pull the trigger and puncture the tyres of the SUV when he comes close to his lead. When officers Suranajan Sen and Sabir Ahmed come close to learn about their operation, Surajan's girlfriend gets threat calls, and Sabir's daughter, Sana gets kidnapped. Meanwhile, when Ruby's body gets recovered from the Rabindra Sarovar Lake we learn about the existence of Gazi. Suranjan has a team of youngsters who investigate the criminal cases and report back to him after several interrogations.
Lalbazaar revolves around the crimes which happen in Kolkata's red-light area and how the goons, cops and media remain associated with it.
Bengali film industry’s hearth throb, Gaurav Chakrabarty, son of ace Tollywood actor Sabyasachi Chakrabarty collaborates in Zee5’s Lalbazaar. Fresh from the success of Dwityo Purush, Gaurav has probably started enjoying the reputation of being the Kolkata’s on-screen cute, young, cop, but this is an industry where actors quickly get stereotyped, there Gaurav needs to be careful. Nepotism might take him to the top but one needs real kind of effort to remain there.
Sauraseni Maitra does not appear any different from her earlier appearances in Macher Jhol or Meghnadbodh Rahashyay. In Lal Bazaar she finds herself in the team of homicide department, but her body language remains that of the girl-next-door and not of a police inspector. In the first episode, she mentally tries to sum up a criminal investigation, however, she pens them down in a manner as if she was trying to play cupid for a dear friend, or rather, solving a puzzle about a possible break up. Sauraseni lacks the character, the expression, the sharpness, usually found in actors who work in the homicide department.
Kaushik Sen and Subrat Dutt remarkably keep us afloat with their conviction. When the scenes cut to the brothel, you try to keep up hoping that eventually there will be a connection with the main plot of the story that is being led by Suranjan Sen played by Kaushik Sen.
Humans of Kolkata are famous for their simplistic nature and laziness. Even if you are aware of a Bengali millionaire, you wouldn’t find their homes to be made of glass, with a designer couch in the middle of their living room. There’s something more earthen about their interior decoration.
Hence in the opening sequence when Suranjan Sen wakes up inside a posh decorated residence with wide glass windows, everything became extremely unrealistic. For a slight moment, we felt trapped within the sets of a Karan Johar produced reality show and not a crime-thriller, and definitely not inside the residence of a police inspector living in Kolkata.
Music and other departments
Crime thrillers have a set pattern when it comes to music, and not many creators have chosen to break the paradigm. It was in Sriram Raghavan’s Andhadhun were Beethoven’s symphony, the sound of a piano played a vital role in creating tension, yet some creators don’t seem to willing to learn or to think out of the box with the instruments provided to them.
Under the direction of Sayantan Ghoshal, the camera works did not seem to be very different from the kind of frames which were used in Srijit Mukherjee’s Dwityo Purush, the frames of which were captured by Soumik Haldar. The Bengali film industry has paused at the idea of new creations, new directions, new tonality, new usage of colour, and have chosen to do what has been done for years.
In Kolkata, the very name Lalbazaar echoes of crime, since it is the head office of the police department in the city. Although the frames tried to capture a crime-filled Kolkata, the music acted as a reminder of the journey that has already been experienced. The content was fresh however and the new faces on screen were a huge break.
Crime happens in broad daylight, sometimes right under our nose and we fail to see them, but in Lalbazaar, even a non-detective mind and eye can solve the crimes happening in the frames right in front of them. The true essence of a crime lies in the idea that the clues are hidden in plain sight, but we falsely make an effort in the other direction. Lalbazaar does not take us to the other direction and that’s where this fails to become a ‘thriller’.
Did I enjoy it?
The series was expected to release in 2019, however, the delay continued and finally released during the lockdown in the middle of a pandemic, when most cinephiles are hunting for the arrival of new content. The break happened however, the act of devouring it was hardly enjoyable.
Do I recommend it?
One of the major problems with young writers have been, there is always an attempt to copy, remake, from the older works of the Hindi film industry or from the tales of Byomkesh Bakshi and Feluda. Kolkata is a city where crime rates have been high and a little intelligent interaction with the police might pour out a lot of interesting tales happening right in front of us. Lalbazaar tries to be a mixture of the two.