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Dispatch from Dubai: Kaushik Ganguly’s Chotoder Chobi

Khoka (Dulal Sarkar) works as a clown in a circus. His life takes a turn when his colleague- Shibu, also a dwarf-meets with an accident. Khoka is entrusted with the responsibility of handing over the compensation to Shibu’s family. He meets his daughter Soma and strikes a bond immediately. Soma suffers from the same physical condition as Khoka.

The story examines various issues at deeper emotional level- self pity versus self respect, survival versus existence, choice versus compromise and ultimately realism and romanticism. Ganguly successfully shows how most dwarfs who work in circus live a sorry life far removed from the laughter they generate through their performances. His characters articulate the day-to-day challenges of normal existence and all they need is a chance to fit in and assimilate in the society. Soma and Khoka are strong characters that help avoid cliched reactions like sympathy and pity. It’s commendable that the filmmaker makes a conscious effort to not show the characters as victims.

The lead actors and the supporting cast in the film are all non-actors who deliver genuine performances. The film has its high points like Khoka describing Shibu’s tragedy to friends wearing a Mickey Mouse mask.

Ganguly succeeds in conveying how the protagonist feels through a series of sequences with care to minor details like the way crowds stare at them, children giggle and how objects of daily life as chairs pose challenges to them.

With films like Chotoder Chobi, the filmmaker, and also the audience, need to be prepared for the natural disconnect with the protagonists because the film shows you life from a perspective that you can’t see on your own. Ganguly’s Chotoder Chobi is commendable but I also feel that his latest remains a smaller effort in comparison to his earlier work shown here in Dubai like Shabdo.

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