Through 'Bhonsle' we have tried to ask that most pressing question of our times - who is a Migrant? What defines someone as an Outsider to a land? Where is that line that demarcates ...
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Through 'Bhonsle' we have tried to ask that most pressing question of our times - who is a Migrant? What defines someone as an Outsider to a land? Where is that line that demarcates boundaries? Who decides who stands inside and who stands outside of that line? If each of our histories is traced back far enough are we all not migrants to our lands in some way or another? Can Man even stake claim to Land? When did we become so arrogant as a species? And finally, at what cost, this arrogance?
Bhonsle starts with a cinematically brilliant montage of the protagonist Bhonsle's (Manoj Bajpayee) ageing and gradual decay. And the crime drama repeats that cinematic brilliance a couple of times (including a 4-minute climax scene shot on a iPhone) in its 130-minute narrative of the man, an involuntarily retired cop, who is eagerly trying to get back to the service while completely disregarding the world that he lives in. Director Devashish Makhija's character Bhonsle does not speak much because he knows it won't have an affect. However, the slow movement of the plot CAN have a strong effect on your viewing experience, aggravated by the snoring of those who have already been impacted. But, not unless you stay with patience and watch director Makhija pull an Ajji (2017) on you. There's a stark resemblance between his Bhonsle and his Ajji, which also premiered at MAMI (in 2017). And especially towards the climax where the philosophy of an old person resorting to evil. Makhija tries to refer to several issues that has plagued the country - blind faith, racism, caste discrimination, and utter political violence - and those are what makes Bhonsle a socially relevant venture for me. The minute subtexts and symbolic references to these themes make it even more interesting until the protagonist sheds his developed idiosyncratic character and goes haywire just to make the film look punchy. Bhonsle tries not to be a regular Bollywood movie but unfortunately crosses the finish line without even knowing it. If you like Bajpayee and his performance and a setting that describes the "silent despair" of life, Bhonsle will be a better experience for you. Do note the subtexts surrounding the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi and the Marathis vs. Biharis issue in the Indian state of Maharashtra to make the most of it. TN.
(Watched and reviewed at its India premiere at the 20th MAMI Mumbai Film Festival.)
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