Friday, 7 August 2015

Bangistan :: Movie Review


Bangistan produced by Excel Fims and directed by Karan Anshuman is a spoof / satire on religious fanatics which works predominantly in parts as the film keeps on oscillating between being a satire and a preachy film on religious harmony. Karan Anshuman who has been a renowned film critic fails to impress much with his debut outing as a director. He had a good script at hand infused with some relevant messages for today's times but unfortunately he could not translate it unto on-screen eloquently. The problem with the movie is that it tries too hard to be funny and that's the reason why most of the gags fall flat. The movie is based in a fictional land called Bangistan where religious fanatics are luring and using gullible citizens to propagate their hidden agenda of hatred. In Bangistan, Hindus and Muslims hate each other to the core and some religious leaders take advantage of this hatred for their vested interests. It's not that as a film Bangistan can be written off completely because it has some moments of brilliance but Alias ! they are too few and far. In today's age when terrorism has become a global threat, the movie ably sheds light on how youth are being brainwashed to sacrifice themselves for the sake of their religion. The film raises a pertinent question whether it is wise enough to go to any length for the sake of faith in a religion or be a responsible citizen having faith in humanity. Like when the protagonists of the movie inquire about the religion of a Bangladeshi cab driver in Poland, he replies that he is "Citizen Hussain" having no religion. Similarly, in the film Jacqueline Fernandes says that she follows no religion as humanity is bigger than all religions. So, the movie which looked liked a fun filled laugh riot from its promos works better in sequences where these messages are delivered in a subtle way. Though, the movie has its share of fun moments too with the distinguished ones being ; scene at the airport where both the main protagonists who are in the garb of each others religion express a desire to be searched thoroughly where after being stripped down, they both realize they are wearing identical underpants. Kumud Mishra who is cribbing that USA has given nothing to them asks for a diet Coke. But, the best scene of the movie is where both the protagonists of the movie who are fanatics of two different religions but in garb of each others religion indulge in a verbal spat. Unintentionally, they end up highlighting the goodness of each others religion by reciting verses from the holy books. This standout scene proves that how religion is being mistreated, misread to spread venom of hatred in the society that we are living in.          

STORY & SCREENPLAY (SPOILERS AHEAD)              ::               The story of Bangistan has been penned down by the trio of Puneet Krishna, Sumit Purohit and Karan Anshuman. The script has been written with honest intentions to showcase that two individuals who are fanatics when it comes to their own religion are howbeit humans having same kind of values. How some religious fanatic leaders are misguiding the youth by spreading the venom of hatred for their own political mileage. The intentions of the script were right but the screenplay gets muddled up somewhere between trying to be a satire with a preachy message. The film begins with introduction of a fictitious country by the name of Bangistan where South Bangistan is dominated by Hindus where as North is occupied by Muslims. People of both the parts are full of hatred for each other with killings being the order of the day. Meanwhile, a video call is held between two religious heads of Bangistan namely Imaam (Tom Alter) and Shankracharya (Shiv Subramaniam) who discuss about promoting peace & harmony at 13th World religious conference scheduled to be held at Poland. Now, some religious fanatics have a problem with this and they decide to send suicide bombers to Poland to hog the limelight. In South Bangistan, a devout Hindu and a struggling actor Pravin Chaturvedi (Pulkit Samrat) is chosen by chief (Kumud Mishra) of 'Maa Ka Dal" to be the suicide bomber of their outfit. Similarly, in North Bangistan Hafeez Bin Ali (Riteish Deshmukh) who is an ex call center employee is assigned the same task by chief (Kumud Mishra) of 'Al Kaam Tamaam'. In order to conceal their identities, both suicide bombers rechristen themselves as Pravin becomes AllahRakha and Hafeez becomes Ishwarchand Sharma. Both of them fly off to Poland where they first have a conversation at the airport & than end up being neighbors in the same building. They keep on bumping into each other and eventually become friends. Will Pravin be successful in this suicidal mission or Hafeez, Will they have a change of heart is what forms the rest of the story.      

STARCAST                                                                             ::            Kudos to Abhishek Banerjee and Anmol Ahuja (Casting Directors) for choosing the effective actors sans any big stars who have fitted the bill and portrayed their characters to the hilt. The movie gives ample scope to Riteish Deshmukh to showcase his skills and he grabs the opportunity with both his hands. Riteish has a penchant for comedy and is known for his comic timing in his previous films. But, in this movie Riteish has ably shown his emotional, intense side too along with his funny antics. He has given a earnest performance which makes his character look believable for which he needs to be applauded. Watch out for him in the scene where he has a change of heart and tries to convince Pulkit for not indulging in act of self destruction. He has enacted this role with tremendous amount of subtlety and restraint. Pulkit Samrat has pulled off this role with visceral amount of passion and energy. He has enacted his journey from being a devout Hindu who performs the role of Hanuman in local Ramleela to becoming a suicide bomber with right amount of aggression. Pulkit has perfected fitted into the shoes of his character which demanded him to be preposterous as well as benevolent at the same time. Jacqueline Fernandes has not only looked stunning but manages to impress during her brief stint in the movie. She gets to mouth one of the better dialogues of the movie with pitch perfection and the dialogue is " All religions expect you to be good human being. I try to be that every single day of my life". Wish she could have a meatier part to play in the movie. I've always held Kumud Mishra in high esteem as an actor and he proves me right by portraying dual role in this movie to pitch perfection. He looks equally impressive as Hindu as well as Muslim religious head who is working for his vested interests. Chandan Roy Sanyal who is a versatile actor has given an apt performance as the cab driver. But, the surprise package of the movie has turned out to be Aarya Babbar. Though, he has a short role in the movie but he manages to overshadow everyone whenever he appears on-screen with his perfect comic timing. Aarya is able to raise aplenty of genuine guffaws in the movie which speak volumes about his acting finesse. In the ensemble starcast, noticeable performances have been delivered by Tom Alter, Shiv Subramaniam, Akash Pandey & Aakash Dabhade.    
 
TECHNICAL FINESSE                                                           ::          The musical soundtrack of the movie that has been composed by Ram Sampath is nothing to write home about as none of the songs stay with you once you exit the theater after watching the movie. Though, the background music of the movie is apt enough to enliven the on-screen proceedings. The cinematographer of the movie is Szymon Lenkowski who has done an astounding job and definitely deserves all the praise for the same. Szymon definitely knows, recognizes, acknowledges and records beauty in every form right from architecture of Poland to sizzling beauty of Jacqueline.. A special mention of Katarzyna Filimoniuk, Amit Ray (Production Designers) and Lukasz Trzcinski (Art Direction) for their effective contribution in their respective fields. The film has been edited by Shweta Venkat who has kept the run-time of the movie to 135 minutes. Though, her editing is crisp but she could have trimmed down some scenes especially in second half. As a director, Karan Anshuman has done a fair job which could have been much better given the potential of script. The biggest flaw of the film is that it lacks consistency and works only in patches. It seems as if somewhere down the line Karan got confused whether to helm an out & out comical satire or a film infused with messages which has affected the final product. Had Karan Anshuman stuck to one chosen line of projection, the result might have been better.  

CONCLUSION                                                                       ::        Bangistan is a prima facie example of how a good script with honest intentions can go haywire if not crafted eloquently. Though, the movie does have its moments where it shows promise but they are too less and too far.

ROHIT SHARMA. 
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