written by Souranath Banerjee
Manoj Bajpayee reinvents himself with every film he does and this one is no exception!
My ratings: 4/5
Mumbai – the city of dreams; but then who gets to dream first? The locals or the so called migrants? The film portrays the time when the conflict between the Maharashtrian extremists and the Bihari emigrants was at its peak. When a dingy chawl in Mumbai got divided into two distinctive communal groups and managed to mirror the tension of an entire state at a micro perspective.
With this conflict being the backdrop, Bhonsle is a film that revolves around a lonely retired cop whose only goal in life is to get an extension of his working years and join back to his police duties. His retired boring routine is killing him (literally), as brilliantly depicted through a dream sequence at the very start of the film.
An aged Mr.Bhonsle (yes, the film is named after him) wearing the typical Marathi styled white-cap along with the white shirt and trousers, who stays in a certain Churchill-Chawl where communal tensions are escalating rapidly with high tendencies of occasional violent outbursts. Vilas, a petty yet ambitious Maharashtrian party-worker struggles to establish himself as a local leader and what better way to get importance than to teach the immigrants a lesson.
But Bhonsle who hardly ever speaks, is surprisingly indifferent to everybody around him. No amount of tension in the chawl seems to get his attention. But then arrives this new Bihari family (a sister and his little brother) and through a string of brief yet sensitive events, Mr.Bhonsle feels an emotional connection to them. And soon the wellbeing of his next-door neighbours start to matter to him; and after a point their wellbeing is the only thing that mattered to him!
Manoj Bajpayee, he has hardly 12 lines of dialogue throughout the 2hr run time of the film, but his silence, his body language, his looks, the pain in his eyes speaks volumes! His exceptional performance resonates even long after you leave the theatre. Santosh Juvekar, who played the role of Vilas, the enthusiastic Maharashtrian fanatic also displays immense control over his acting capabilities. Ipshita Chakraborty Singh, Abhishek Banerjee and young Virat Vaibhav – all have done justice to their roles.
Superbly shot by Jigmet Wangchuk and so well edited by Shweta Venkat the film transports you to the dark rat-infested, poverty-stricken gullies and chawls of Mumbai where people have nothing else other than their dignity and identity, and they are ready to fight for it!
Overall a superb film that had its run around some of the most prestigious festivals across the globe. Now it is your turn to watch!