Let me start with a confession that I never liked the work of Birsa Dasgupta. I don’t know why but I always found something or the other missing (or a very shallow approach) in his way of direction. But it’s all in the “past” and when a good story is taken up by an experienced director, who has a team of geniuses working with him, coupled with good actors, a show so gripping is made.
Not only direction and acting, what sold for me in this presentation is editing, by Sumit Chowdhary, and a fast screenplay.
Past, however, doesn’t leave a person always even if s/he chooses to.
The story: A gang of six college friends goes to a jungle in Bihar’s Madhubani to celebrate the bachelorette party of a member. They stay at a bungalow and allow a guest to enter. What happens next is not only riveting but will keep you guessing about the fear of the unknown.
Note: Mafia isn’t about any racket but a game — of a hunter and its prey — that they (plug and) play. As the sun sets and darkness grips the area, starts the new-age game that involves their past. No horror element is involved here (in terms of scary white faces) but the players!
Love the beauty of the Dooars? Then this location is sure to take you there, in the lap of nature under the green canopy and a rivulet for company. Sheer love!
While this bilingual show is not only self-explanatory in terms of some unexpressed cultural queries, it will leave you rummaging through the history of the characters.
Say for example, one of the lead characters Rishi (Tanmay Dhanania, known for another series — Zero Kms with Naseeruddin Shah — on Zee5) speaks Bangla but with a Hindi accent. The bungalow belongs to his father and we can clearly assume here that he was a migrant student who took up and speaks Bangla well. I appreciate the work of the casing director here.
Actors like Anindita Bose, Namit Das, Madhurima Roy, Aditya Bakshi and, of course, Tanmay did a brilliant job.
However, my choice for the role of Ritwik (played by Saurabh Saraswat) would have been Riddhi Sen and Sauraseni Maitra (for Ani) over Isha M Saha.
While I loved the presentation from the very beginning, something that’s worth mentioning here is an intentional confusion that the director creates for the viewers in terms of what’s happening. The way two similar trips are juxtaposed is superb.
Reason: As you keep watching, the confusion gets cleared. That’s good film-making for me.
While the dialogues in Bangla and Hindi fitted well, somehow the “hobek laai” and “jaabek laai” didn’t really fit the tribal lingo. They speak Maithili after all and this colloquial blunder is glaring.
Another flaw that’s disturbing throughout is the background score; it’s too loud and not jarring, something that was actually required here.
Overall, Mafia is a good one-time watch and you may also expect a second season.
P.S: The good work of the director reminds me of the poem, Banga Bhasha, by Micheal Madhusudhan Dutta. I chose to watch Breathe – Into the shadows first even though both these shows released on the same day. Good job, Mr Director. I repeat.