Cinema can be categorized in two kinds: cinema for the masses and cinema for the classes. Back to back, two films released at almost the same time in India this month which substantiates the mass/class division i.e. the multi crore high-tech dramas Bahubali and a low budget cinematic excellence, Master Director Buddhadeb Dasgupta's Tope. Based on a short story by Narayan Gangopadhyay, Dasgupta plants the universal theme of power politics, subjugation of the subalterns, dominance, violence, feminist agenda, relationship between the nature and human beings, the role of media and decadence of moral values under one context.
The film revolves around three parallel happenings. There is the Raja (Sudipto Chaterrjee) the eccentric landlord, who can go to any extent to fulfill his dreadful wishes. There is Munni, a nomadic trapeze artist who lives with her parents (Paoli Dam), then there is Goja (Chandan Roy Sanyal), a postman who suffers from meaninglessness of life and takes refuge in a tree, communicates with his friendly neighbors: the monkeys. Raja is also a hunter who is pursued by a group of young documentary makers while hunting down a tiger in the nearby forest. His lonely mistress Rekha (Ananya Chatterjee) finds solace in her imaginary soul mate who visits her every night in her dreams.
Eventually the film takes an elliptical approach to the question of what-or who- is really the bait. The crux of the film is its nonlinear treatment, usage of several surreal images and subtle, poignant declaration of war of resistance. The film is dark with a thriller element to it, yet the sheer poetic treatment of the macabre plot renders it with a different meaning altogether. Buddhadeb Dasgupta calls it as his "extended realism". To us, it is sheer magic!!
The background score is haunting and added an extra edge to the plot. Alkananda Dasgupta did an excellent piece of work here. The lush green cinematography by Asim Bose deserves accolades. Editing by Amitava Dasgupta is almost perfect, keeping in tune with the nature of the film.
Having travelled around Toronto International Film Festival, Pusan International Film Festival & BFI London; Tope seems to have added an extra innings in the oeuvre of the maestro. Dasgupta, with his latest has again created a masterpiece, multilayered, allegorically rich and exclusively meant for the niche audience with a basic sense of what "cinema" is!