Shyam Singha Roy ~ A Flawed Shakespearean Ambition
Shyam Singha Roy
Star Cast: Nani, Sai Pallavi, Krithi Shetty, Madonna Sebastian, Jishu Sengupta, Rahul Ravindran, and Manish Wadhwa.
Directed by Rahul Sankrityan
Written by Satyadev Janga
Music composed by Mickey J Meyer
Edited by Navin Nooli
While drawing Monalisa, Leonardo Da Vinci might have thought to himself. I should make a painting that shows the soul of a woman, and also he might have wanted to have an artistic expression that brings out his unique signature. Every artist dreams to have their signature on the artwork they have developed. Their kind of expression, their kind of message, their kind of forward-thinking, their kind of devotionality, their kind of rationality, everything that screams out loud to be them and only THEM. Rahul Sankritiyan too tried to paint the screen with paintings that scream out his signature style in a resounding manner. But he lost out on bringing the “soul” of his film out in open with the same frames. Monalisa might represent something for Da Vinci but many were able to interpret it in their own way and that added to the beauty of the painting, a soul that can connect to me in my unique way and yet be it’s own.
To elaborate, Shyam Singha Roy is not a unique story. It doesn’t have any unique premise too. Still, it feels fresh due to the craft and efforts of Rahul and his team along with Nani, Sai Pallavi, and others. Let me first talk about what is fresh here, the most refreshing part is the production design. Whatever script and director’s vision demanded that has been provided to him and even bettered. For example, there are sets that feel like authentic Calcutta and take us to the period that the story is set in. Actors don’t look like they have been given a fat paycheck to show up and hence they just “showed up”. They really made their presence felt. Director smartly used Sai Pallavi as a dancer to express sensuous romance and low self-esteem. Contrasting emotions to be present in a person but that is the beauty of being human too. Another refreshing factor is that scenes are allowed to be at the length that they should be. Few could have been even tighter but many were appropriately written.
Now let’s concentrate on the flaws part. The major flaw of the film is writing. Yes, writing. Scenes that needed depth don’t get so much depth because the poet in the director wanted to scream out his prowess. Why does a family want to kill their own blood? What drove them to that length? Why does Rosie decide to stay hidden for all these years when she could have taken forward the ideals of Shyam Singha Roy? What really did the comeback of SSR SOUL ACHIEVE? Why can’t Shyam Singha Roy write something reacting to today’s society? Why does he write the same story even after 45 years? What ambition of his was left untold or untouched for him to tell TODAY? We can keep asking such potent questions and we don’t get answers unless we assume a few things. This is the biggest flaw in this screenplay. The heart of the story lies in the revolution that SSR stood for and aspired. His family did not support it and that should have driven forward the reason for his comeback. That would have led a grave meaning to the climax. Even in the 1964 film, Mooga Manasulu, or 1958 film, Madhumathi, the reason for reincarnation has a stronger meaning. If the reason is to end the longing of a pure soul like Rosie, then you have to have the eyes of SSR fall for her and then expect her story to get a proper resolution, her wish to be fulfilled. We get the eyes of Rahul Sankrityan and see beautiful frames through his eyes but the soul lies in the eyes of SSR.
The soul of the film lies in Shyam and Rosie/Maithreyi defining odds and leading their lives. How difficult it was needed more time and importance rather than their poetic romance. Even if we love them as characters or actors, we need more reason to want them to have a conclusion. Not every story gets a satisfying ending. Even Ramayana when extended feels sad and incomplete rather than the Hero winning at the end of it all against all odds ending. While crafting hero stories, we need a soul to be the odds he or she faces for the poetic ending to have weight.
We needed the eyes of Manoj Singha Roy to like SSR writings and artistic expression as we don’t belong to that time zone to really connect to him instantaneously. You need proper time and perspective, understand the impact that he left on others around him to really miss him, and wish his return. If you see Moogamanasulu and decide that GOPI (ANR) is REINCARNATED FOR GOWRAMMA (JAMUNA) AND NOT FOR AMMAYI GARU (SAVITRI) then that would look like an interjection becoming the main plot. SSR’s struggle did get appreciation and recognition. He made a promise and came back to keep it. But that promise needed potency. That promise needed meat. After watching a character with such high emotional value and such a heart-breaking end, you cannot expect him to just come back because his wife is staying alive. The interstellar film had this problem but there hero doesn’t directly reincarnate, only metaphorically does it. Nolan uses it as a representation of human strength and love. Here, an atheist reincarnates because his wife wished for something that he would never believe in. So, the character motivation seems weak. A bad movie like Subhash Chandra Bose had better character motivation to reincarnate.
On the whole, the craft and visual strength of Shyam Singha Roy are ambitious, aspire-worthy, and potentially a painstakingly drafted painting of its own. But the writing brings the house down. Nani after a long time got a meaty role and he brought his A-game. He really worked like a man possessed to rise above the script and give life to each frame. He successfully does that. Especially he and Sai Pallavi complement each other like characters from a good novel. There is the Shakespearean ambition behind SSR’s story and in fact, it would have worked better with character development. It just feels like we are promised a 56-course (chappan bhog) meal and given only a 3-course meal with drawings of 53 other tasty dishes hanging on the wall.