• Wed. Mar 22nd, 2023


When Denis Villeneuve set off to direct a sequel for Blade Runner (1982), 35 years after the release of the tech-noir, which is now considered as a cult classic, director Christopher Nolan referred to him as ‘walking on sacred territory’. The same can be said for Dr. Bezbarua 2 which comes after a staggering 54 years since the release of the first one. This makes Dr. Bezbarua 2 (2023) one of those movies with a longest gap period between their sequels. Not only was Dr. Bezbarua released in 1969, but it also holds a significant place in the history of cinema in Assam.

Directed by the late veteran actor Nipon Goswami, Dr. Bezbarua 2, just like the first one, offers the story of a return of the prodigal son back to his roots. After seven years, Shantanu (played by Siddharth Goswami) returns to Assam to attend his sister’s wedding. But with an insoluble truth of the not-so-distant past, can the demons be far behind?

Produced by Dr Sanjive Narain and Dr Akshata Narain, Dr. Bezbarua 2 is stylish and its exuberant display of production value evidences the amount of money invested in it. It offers layers of thrills, and the pacing is just right enough to hold boredom at bay. And the expositions are placed at successive intervals which make this suspenseful thriller with many twists and turn not so difficult to understand.

However, the issue with the screenplay is how the twists and turns are revealed. Because the characters want to reveal their actions for themselves, Dr. Bezbarua 2 makes for a classic case of poor writing. Both Ranjan Goswami and Shantanu admit to doing whatever it is that they have done, in front of each other. But it would have been far more engaging and entertaining if the characters had used their own investigative capacities to arrive at that information about each other. Instead, there are scenes where the characters now awkwardly stand in the frame while one explains how he outwitted the other.

In order to stay true to the classic film written and directed by Brajen Barua in 1969 and to tickle the awe of the people who have actually seen the first part, the script of Dr. Bezbarua 2 attempts to incorporate twists from the original film. For the benefit of the readers of this review, I will want to highlight that spoilers for both the movies will be provided from this point. Therefore, continue reading it at your own risk.

To put it another way, using face masks as disguises is to Dr. Bezbarua what the ship is to Titanic and Tom Cruise’s death-defying stunts are to Mission Impossible. Well, using masks for surprise reveals are a forte of the Mission Impossible series as well but Dr. Bezbarua has its own purpose and spin to the trick. And Dr. Bezbarua 2 too, like its first part, proudly utilizes that trick and then some others. And I can say that these revelations only partially succeed because while audiences are amazed by the twists, they have not been able to pick up on the references to the previous part (because from my gathering what I can assume is – only a few have watched the first film). I am always of the opinion that being able to relate to the references makes movie watching a wholesome experience.

Dr. Bezbarua 2 opens with a shot of an analogue wall clock with a pendulum. As a human hand reaches out to wind back the hands of the clock, a voice-over narration by Nipon Goswami explains to the audience about the paradox of time and how it can sometimes go backwards. Yes, it highlights Nipon Goswami’s reprisal of the role of Prodeep Duora from the first film once again after 54 years. And the clock also serves as a connecting symbol for both parts of the movie. In the first film, adjusting the hands of a similar clock would open the doorway to secret bunker inside Dr. Bezbarua’s house.

Dr. Bezbarua 2 also occasionally veers into the territory of meta-cinema. There’s even a quick sizzle reel dedicated to the previous film when Nipon Goswami makes his glorious appearance as Prodeep Duora towards the second half of Dr. Bezbarua 2. And he is as involved in his character as ever. Meanwhile, Adil Hussain in the titular role, steps into the shoes of the character which was previously portrayed by Brajen Barua, and brings in a layered depth and persona to the role. He plays both Dr. Bezbaruah and someone posing in as Dr. Bezbaruah at the same time. There are some fine nuances he brings to the role, like adjusting his hairdo or a sly smile to hide his confused state, when he appears as the fake doctor.

Other than that, the movie doesn’t offer any standout performances that are worth writing about. Siddharth Goswami (as Shantanu) appear to be glamorous, but disappoints because his character somehow lacked the suave touch of Nipon Goswami from the first film. His character is missing on the flavourful mischief of Nipon Goswami in the first part if both the characters are to be compared. Kingkini Bhattacharyya looks as glamorous but apart from the songs, she had no contribution, whatsoever, to the plot of the movie. She exists in the film only to invalidate the Bechdel test of female representation in cinema.

Dr. Bezbarua 2 is satisfying and very watchable due to the various ways it stays true to the original. The design of the film is that of a spiritual sequel, but Prodeep Duora’s presence forces it in the direction of a direct sequel. And as the voice over narration of Nipon Goswami (as Prodeep Duora) states, that sometimes time repeats itself, the past and the present do share many similarities. The core essence and elements of storytelling in Dr. Bezbarua 2 remains unchanged. There is the return of the son to unearth a tragic tale from the past, the death of a sister, the exchange of a son’s fate and most importantly, the hijacked identity of Dr. Bezbaruah. The turns of events leading to the similarities are different but the outcomes are the same in both the films. And this makes Dr. Bezbarua 2 an interesting tribute to its original.

But I disliked the utilization of the songs in Dr. Bezbaura 2. In the first film, the narrative demanded the songs and hence they were a part of the movie. But here, in Dr. Bezbarua 2, the songs are random and serve as a major distraction and the music by Zubeen Garg and his remake prowess over Ramen Barua’s timeless melodies are of no help either. The recreated songs have ruined the original charm and feel of the songs.

The new version of Ki Naam Di Maatim relatively feels better than the rest because of its distinct Zubeen Garg touch in it. And the rest probably have more beats but are not as groovy as the original ones. Even in the new Jiliki Jilika, the peppiness of the original song is missing. The songs feature contemporary beats, but their enthusiasm and energy seems to have been sapped. Siddharth Goswami’s presence itself is bothersome in the video of the song Phool Phool. He feels uncomfortable in shaking that leg and it’s clearly visible. And as for the visual and aesthetic feel of the songs, the videos are edited horrendously. I will not go very high but watching any Varun Dhawan party dance number will tell you why.
INSERT Video Song Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HW7i6LzopcA

Although Zubeen Garg as a music director have failed to meet my expectations, he is credible as an actor in the film. The build-up before the intermission is a fairly significant part of suspense thrillers and Dr. Bezbaruah 2 takes its time to introduce all of its important characters. This is where we are introduced to Mohadev Borboruah, Special Officer, Crime Branch played by Zubeen Garg. And Zubeen Garg is as Zubeen Garg as he can get. Every time he is on screen, he exudes confidence and transude a sense of authority which holds the attention of the audience.

But the over emphasis on his character in the first half, makes Dr. Bezbarua 2 a kind of Zubeen Garg directorial where his character appears to be second to none. I am very aware that, his casually walking in and out of all kinds of situations with an indifferent or brave heart is done to establish the character. But my point is that Zubeen Garg’s method, which is very specific to his films, Mission China (2017) and Kanchanjangha (2019), is used to establish that character here. Mohadev Borboruah appears as though the Colonel (of Mission China) was downgraded to the rank of special officer in the crime branch. The modus operandi of interrogation and investigation of both the characters are same in both the films.

And this makes Dr. Bezbarua 2 a hybrid between the self-indulgent directorial style of Zubeen Garg and living up to the pioneering efforts of the original. It is only in the second half that Dr. Bezbaruah 2 honours the first film. The makers of Dr. Bezbarua 2 struck a good balance on these steps later to keep the story moving forward without dragging it much. In fact, the fast pace of the movie and its non-linear storytelling enthralled the audiences, who are not used to suspense-thrillers, to the extent of exhaustion and confusion.

There comes a point towards the end of Dr. Bezbarua 2 where a lot of information – aural and visual – is given out all at once, and this did not sit well with the viewers belonging to the older generation, who are more accustomed to a straightforward mode of storytelling. It sure must have been confusing for some but this is where our audiences have to evolve. In this case, Dr. Bezbarua 2 is a successful film as it retains the parallel narrative style of the first part which was then a unique feature of its time. In the same way that the first movie had done in its time, this one too is attempting to change the game and push the envelope further.

Back then, Dr. Bezbarua (1969) was the first of its kind for cinema in Assam. It was one of the first Assamese films that pioneered the methods of filming both the indoor and outdoor sequences in Assam instead of studio floor in Kolkata. It proved that Assamese cinema can be commercially successful and gave returns just like the second part is redefining success for cinema in Assam now. According to reports shared by the producers, Dr. Bezbarua 2 has minted over 2 crores in just 5 days so far. Dr. Bezbarua 2 also has a few shots of Singapore and London which is a nod to the path breaking credits of outdoor shooting of the first film.

Dr. Bezbarua 2 undoubtedly has all the elements required for a success at the box office, but it might not be a flawless suspense thriller. And as I have already mentioned above, there are certain shortcomings in the writing of this movie. Firstly, it is too heavy on exposition which is understandable as a requirement to satisfy the ignorant crowd of Assamese cinema. Secondly, the script plays a lot of things on chance as the dots in the distance seem to connect themselves. Mohadev Borboruah asks his subordinate to look up the suspects’ long list of criminal histories in order to find some leads for his investigation. And the sub-inspector promptly shows up with the correct file, as though the file was waiting to be found. In one scene, Mohadev Borboruah orders to summon all the illegal gun suppliers in the entire city and there’s only four! And apparently, a hotel room is suspicious because the lights were on while the lights of the neighbouring rooms were switched off.

Then Mohadev Borboruah takes his entire team to arrest Shantanu and yet he manages to escape just by pushing Borboruah away! And the fact that Shantanu survived all of his deeds was due more to luck than intelligence. And there are many such loopholes in the film. In such scenarios, you can almost feel a tinge of over-confidence among the characters or in the writer’s way of addressing the plot points which makes the unfolding of events in the film – impractical. Or perhaps Assamese audience get only what they deserve. One thing I will say of Dr. Bezbarua 2 is that the villain in this story is clearly smarter than the hero.

In all honesty, if you haven’t watched Dr. Bezbarua (1969), you will enjoy Dr. Bezbarua 2 as it offers certain guilty pleasure of kinds like that of watching that Abbas–Mustan thriller from the 1990s. And Dr. Bezbarua 2 doesn’t try to retain the flavour of the original because the previous instalment was more playful and focused on village life rather than the doom and gloom and glamour and slammer of a city life. Actually, capturing that exact spirit of the first film was neither necessary nor desirable either. I’m just drawing a comparative statement to illustrate the difference between both the parts.

But where credit is due, I will applaud screenwriter Rajdweep for being able to accurately contextualise the themes presented in the first movie according to the prevalent cinematic and storytelling conventions of today while also remaining true to the elements presented in the previous movie. It successfully de-alienates the melodramatic lost and found troupe and the loud, romantic sentimentalism of the first movie while maintaining the plot points of mistaken identities, mixed alibis, and the karmic consistency of the victory of good over evil. The character arcs of tension and connection between a mother and her adopted son, however, could have been explored in a little better way. But I am still baffled as to how two men with drastically different physiques exchange shoes without getting caught.



(The article is solely the opinion of the author. The views expressed here are solely personal and not in any way connected to any organisation or any political party ).


Kalpajyoti Bhuyan

Email: 666kalpa@gmail.com

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