Chander Pahar, an Unfocused Adventure-Cum-Travelogue
© 2013 - IABA Inc.
Based on the popular Bengali novel of the same name, Chander Pahar is an unfocused adventure-cum-travelogue.
At first, writer-director Kamaleswar Mukherjee's adaptation is an homage to the domestic melodramas of Ritwik Ghatak, the subject of Mukherjee's directorial debut. Pressured by his concerned mother, 20-year-old daydreamer Shankar Chowdhury (Dev Adhikari) leaves home and becomes a stationmaster for the Uganda Railway, resulting in a preposterous man-vs.-nature narrative.
Shankar stubbornly ignores multiple lion assaults and one black mamba molestation — all captured in slow-motion, compounding Dev's already awkward performance — so he can make like David Livingstone and master, in Shankar's words, "the Dark Continent." Then, after saving fellow explorer-tourist Diego Alvarez (Gerard Rudolf) from a pack of hyenas, Shankar quits his job and looks for diamonds in the mountains of South Africa.
These scenes are a desert-set variation on Robinson Crusoe, except unlike Daniel Defoe's civilized hero out in nature, Shankar winds up fighting a giant purple lizard-monster called a "bunyip" — a beast that, once seen, makes it impossible to take Chander Pahar seriously.
Like a walking concept sketch for an aborted H.R. Pufnstuf-style Diablo expansion pack, the bunyip is two beady yellow eyes, crooked sabertooth-tiger fangs, and a bullfrog-like neck bulge on a fat purple dinosaur's body.
Mukherjee's chimera, like the movie around it, is too ungainly to live.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.