When I got my hands on Nabil Muhtasim's Sosemira, I dove into it right away and after what was a two to three hours read, I was left in a state, which in Bangla, can only be termed as 'Kingkortobyobimuro'- a state of perplexity. It is fairly amusing though, as the title 'Sosemira' literally translates to just that.
Based on the works of the great Indian poet Kalidas, Sosemira was first released in 2021 by Oboshor Publications. Later, it was also adapted into a graphic novel.
When I think about the story, the word 'filmy' is the word that comes to mind. This is because the story actually has a cinematic feel to it. It's nothing that you haven't seen in thriller films, crime television shows, or soap operas. Just as those soap operas have the ability to draw you in, Sosemira took me in too, because it started off with real suspense, and for at least the first hour, I could not stop wondering,"What's next?"
The protagonist, 'Kamal' is an informant (referred to as 'Source' in the book) to inspector Raees. Kamal is portrayed as an extremely deductive and street smart individual, and is a real resource for the inspector when it comes to solving active cases in the fictional city (or town) of Kirtimari, located near Rangpur in northern Bangladesh.
He is one of those people who could tell your whereabouts earlier in the evening by simply observing the grass blade stuck to the mud and soil on the bottom of your shoe. The first thing that popped to my mind was the first time Sherlock and John Watson met at a hospital room, and Sherlock readily deduced everything about John's life, in the BBC's tv series 'Sherlock'.
The story revolves around a dying criminal's (Raghunath Roy's) confession about murdering a child. Simultaneously, another plot unfolds, as the disappearance of the wife ( Nisha) and child (Aliya) of Saifuddin Basunia (son of business tycoon Mirza Mohammad Basunia) is reported, and the duo of inspector Raees and Kamal embark upon the journey of deciphering the two cases.
At this point, a forced integration of 'Sosemira' began, which was disappointing. As Kamal continues his investigation, only circumstantial evidence is discovered, but he has a gut feeling that the cases are related to a book he had just finished reading, Kalidas' 'Sosemira'. Sosemira had no inherent connection to the main plot. However, since it is an adaptation from a novel, this is more likely a flaw in the original book than in the graphic novel.
The storyline's pacing slowed down a bit after this point. It felt like the writer had a predetermined narrative around some characters. Through the dialogue, the author established the mood and aura surrounding some characters, leaving little room for the reader to interpret the characters according to their own unique perspectives.
The use of a black-and-white color palette in Adrian Anik's artwork gave the narrative a somber, gritty tone that was perfectly in line with the plot. When viewed from a neo-noir perspective, the artwork is respectable. However, some of the dimensional elements of the artwork appear to bend the viewer's point of view. It kind of interrupts the flow of artistic style, even if it is done as a creative choice.
The dialogue was occasionally a little too crammed into the blurbs for my taste, though I wouldn't say that this was one of the artwork's weaker points.
One thing I quite enjoyed was the north Bengal dialect in the dialogues. Nabil Muhtasim himself hails from Rangpur and he had a flawless approach when it came to his characters executing the northern dialects.
A bit of subcontinental influence could clearly be felt in some portions of the story. Names of the red light district brothels such as 'Heera Mandi' are inspired from elsewhere, since such names are not native to northern Bangladesh. ( Pakistan's oldest red light area is named Heera Mandi)
Unfortunately, there were numerous spelling errors in the graphic novel as a whole.
Sosemira had every tool at its disposal to give the readers an engrossing story. Despite having a ton of strong artwork, a few interesting characters, and a running subplot, it didn't ultimately resonate with me as much as I had hoped when I was just a few pages in.
By the time I had finished reading it, my takeaway was that Sosemira was only good, as opposed to being outstanding, due to a lack of character development or, if you prefer, character profiling, the story's pacing, and the rather enforced integration of Kalidas' 'Sosemira'.