STORY: When a two-year-old murder case is reopened, ACP Dilip Dutta (Bratya Basu) and his two deputies (Rimjhim Mitra and Sourav Chakraborty) are pulled into a game of wits with the prime suspect — renowned artist and novelist Sankarshan Gupta (Debshankar Halder).
REVIEW: Kalkijug is a well-cooked stew of crime blockbusters like Suspect X and Basic Instinct. But, somehow, it has a fresh feel to it. Maybe that's because the detective walking a cold trail of murder and deceit is not as confident or cerebral as the Byomkeshes, Feludas or Sherlocks we are so used to. Rather, ACP Dilip Dutta (Bratya Basu) is more flummoxed by the crime than even the audience.
Well yes, despite all its twists and turns, Kalkijug is a bit predictable, especially towards the climax — exactly when it shouldn't have been. In fact, it ceased to be a mystery in the last 30 minutes. And that's not good news when it comes to a crime thriller.
Nevertheless, it's a film well made. If ACP Dutta is clueless, and his deputies (Rimjhim and Sourav) more so, that's because the plot demands it. It's not that Dutta isn't sharp; he's just not sharp enough to outsmart artist-cum-author Sankarshan Gupta (Debshankar Haldar) in the game of cat and mouse that develops between the two. Sankarshan is calm and composed throughout the investigation and even passes a lie-detector test without batting an eyelid (sounds familiar?). Dutta, on the other hand, is a vocal cop with a disturbed family life who observes things quite minutely.
But here's the catch. Though Dutta's visual thoughts — as he walks back in time to relive the sequence of events leading to the confusing murder — are a treat to watch (and ring quite a few bells), and the film establishes early on that he's a shrewd detective, he apparently gets nowhere with his current case. That, of course, is nothing illogical. But what is, is his character. His domestic turmoil seems to have no import, whatsoever, on his character or day-to-day life. Why incorporate such a major personal tragedy in his character sketch when it hardly affects the storyline? I say 'hardly' here because there's just one scene in which this tragedy comes back to haunt and anger him.
Then again, there's a baffling attempt to confuse the audience by showing a kidnapping, which takes place two years later, at the very beginning of the film. At that point of time, it does seem that the murder victim has been kidnapped, but things become clear after the intermission. The question is not why it's shown, but what is it try to imply? How can two incidents, separated in time and space, form a questionable sequence that seem wholly meaningless at the second glance?
Then there's Suspect X, Sankarshan Gupta, who manages to outwit Dutta at step. But to what end? Is he trying to protect someone? If yes, why does he write a book detailing the crime? And what is he in the end? Happy or sad? If happy, why the mind games? If sad, which psychological disorder made him write the book? Quite confusing, his character.
But all said and done, Kalkijug is quite a good watch. For one, it's the great performances by the powerhouses, Bratya Basu and Debshankar Haldar, supported quite solidly by the other cast members, including Locket. Second, the plot, though a bit muddled, cannot just be brushed away. It does have its high points, with the camerawork by Joydeep Bose and the music by Raja Narayan Deb adding quite a lot to the look and feel of the film. And as I mentioned at the outset, the look and feel are quite fresh. So, go watch it. It may be somewhat 'inspired', but it does keep its promise to thrill.