KOREANS LOVE detective thrillers, but then so do Bengalis. This is an official remake of a Korean film, Montage. It is set in Kolkata and has all the ambience of the city expected of a kidnapping and murder mystery in the Feluda tradition.
The visuals are haunting and they tell the story. Eight years previously, John Biswas lost his granddaughter to a kidnapping gone horribly wrong, and he is still desperately searching for clues on a case that the Kolkata Police have given up on. He cannot sleep and wants closure. The only contacts he has left from the tragedy is the police officer who was then on the case, Martin Das (Nawazuddin Siddiqui), and the current officer on duty at the police station, Sarita Sarkar (Vidya Balan).
Martin is now a priest, and it’s the scenes are set in the church where he preaches, in mosques, at land record offices and at cemeteries across this great city that give the movie a soul and keep you riveted. It is not an ensemble film and the characters mostly function independent of each other. This allows the director to keep cutting between the diverse settings. So in one scene you have a quiet conversation between a maulvi and the gaunt looking John Biswas (Amitabh Bachchan), with all the ambient sound of a mosque. This is cut, with an overlapping sound edit, to busy streets, the noisy railway station where Martin is at, or to the police station where Sarita is busy. The film has a lovely visual and sound design that shows you a city in both motion and stillness.
Minor characters are cast perfectly in the mix. The central actors are convincing, particularly the introverted and unhappy personality that Bachchan plays and in which he completely loses himself. He is the lynchpin of the movie once again, but in a nice, understated way. An absorbing film about loss, closure and reconciliation.