Makar Kanti Chatterjee is a semi-educated self-made businessman who tries hard but often fails to communicate in English. On the other hand, his son Suman gets romantically involved with a woman married to an introverted forest officer, Ashoke Sanyal, these two interconnected yet distinct stories form the crux of the film.Dictionary 2021. Life is not always what it seems. And it’s this duality and elusiveness that Bratya Basu deals with in Dictionary. On one hand is the semi-educated Makar aka Mak, who is so obsessed with an opulent and progressive lifestyle that he almost spends sleepless nights after he sees his son enjoying curd and flattened rice for breakfast. In reality, it takes him back to the days when he had no other option but to have that very combination as a morning meal.
On the other hand, there’s his brother-in-law, Suman, who gets involved in an extramarital affair after getting posted as a teacher at a school in Purulia. Suman is the thread tying the two different stories, both of which revolve around specific meanings in life. While Makar fumbles when it comes to speaking the right English words, Ashoke, knowing well what’s happening between his wife and Suman, is on a quest to understand what being a husband really means. And both men ultimately discover the meaning of their lives in the pages of a dictionary. The storyline has been developed well, but somewhere, despite the climactic connect established with a dictionary, it fails to justify the two threads.
The result is that neither of the threads get enough attention. This, in turn, weakens the character portraits. None of the characters are truly established. Makar comes off as more of a comic relief rather than a good father, husband or employer. Ashoke and his family too, seem like people without roots or relatives. Bringing these two islands together was a challenge, which the film hasn’t addressed well.