In an open terrace surrounded by books piled up on top of another lies a foamed bathtub where you can enjoy the top view of the sky, the city Kolkata and take a bath simultaneously. If you are completely comfortable with the idea of your neighbours getting a look at your wet and wild self, then probably you won't think of such a bath place as a bad idea. Much later you come to know that this only took place in a dream sequence inside the unconscious state of writer Sougata Sinha who was with another woman discussing an upcoming plot while seductively talking to him in a bathtub. The shot begins with a bride in Christian customs lying down on the staircase and actors moving backwards. In the era of pause, rewind, it will become easy to distinguish that this wasn't an edited attempt.
There's a gush of wind, and a new mood of cynicism begins when the popular author arrives in Kolkata. This Kolkata is not the city of joy but is dark and gritty and that strangely haunts Sougata. This isn't the Kolkata you would witness in a Shiboprasad Mukherjee or Srijit Mukherji film hence do not try to figure out where our story went wrong. The cinematic space explored in Shobdo Jobdo is the vision of Kolkata that the inhabitants of the city have witnessed lately. There are large unconstructed buildings but no offices to begin the work. There's the continuous development of infrastructure but no investor to bring in more people. With the passing of every episode, you realise, how this dark city reflects the mind of Sougata Sinha who is full of ideas but no one is ready to listen to him, so he screams at his otherwise patient wife.
Like all film movements, Hoichoi’s Shobdo Jobdo drew upon a reservoir of film techniques that became popularly known as film noir in Hollywood. Given the time one could correlate its techniques, themes and causal elements into a stylistic schema. For the present director, Saurav Chakraborty knows well that most of the audience watching his content is not aware of the techniques used by noir filmmaker and thereby he has a slight bit of advantage.
Cinematographer Subhadeep Dey uses hand movements that aesthetically make a point, but there is the audio that slightly becomes louder than the theme of the series. There’s young Raka who at a tender stage in her life begins to snort cocaine and that vision slightly strikes you. You can’t help but wonder if that’s the burden that falls on the real-life star kids who are constantly watched by the media, who are rooting for them to make one wrong move.
If you are well-versed with the works of Roman Polanski, Alfred Hitchcock, or even Hoichoi’s series such as Byomkesh, Aste Ladies to name a few, Shobdo Jobdo will not completely surprise you. It was perhaps a conscious decision to keep Raka in breezy attires, something that would represent the illustrations of the novel Lolita.
The cast which includes Rajat Kapoor, Paayel Sarkar, Mumtaz Sorcar, in the lead and Subrat Dutta in supporting cast, and Kankana Chakraborty, Saloni Pandey, Kaushik Roy alongside having given their best even with their minimum screen time.
The French beard Rajat Kapoor is nothing like the NRI uncle from Monsoon Wedding, nor the angry biased father from Kapoor and Sons. In his own charming style, Kapoor grabs his character as the popular writer hailing from the outskirts of Kolkata and now topping the charts as one of the most popular authors in New York.
Paayel Sarkar as Aditi plays the role of a bored housewife who keeps a happy face while enjoying her kitty party, where her friends mainly know her as the wife of the handsome celebrated author. She is also a worried mother, who cares about her drug-addict daughter Raka. Her life pendulums from extreme sadness in one end and frustration on the other end. Yet she manages to hold herself together and put a happy face on.
Mumtaz Sorcar as Sulagna appears in blinks and unlike Aditi, she is not seen in bright attires. In her own lucid expressions, Mumtaz adapts herself as Sulagna; with her brief appearance, she breaks in and penetrates her way in, inside the mind of Sougata Sinha. Mumtaz in her nefarious ways often appears when the lighting is low and rainfall is at its peak.
Much like it is revealed in the title itself, ‘Shobdo Jobdo’, hinting at a game of words playing a role in betraying your five senses, this is a film that can be enjoyed more in the form of a book. What director Saurav Chakraborty could have improvised is his usage of music direction. There are times when Shobdo Jobdo becomes imprecise, but that is forgivable since this web-series is not dominated by melodrama.
With a promising cast on board, Shobdo Jobdo remains dedicated in its effort to be the best. Unlike the protagonist Sougata Sinha they do not get lost, neither do they detach themselves with the characters who helped them build the story. However, this is a web-series which would have been more interesting in the form of a book.
Ratings: 2.5 stars.