Abar Basanta Bilap movie review: Humour is unpardonably used to condone social evils in this ridiculous film
Nothing works in Abar Basanta Bilap – least of all the humour. And for a film that is supposed to be a comedy, that is certainly not good news.
castKharaj Mukherjee, Moon Moon Sen, Mir Afsar Ali And Paran Bandopadhyay
directorRajesh Dutta and Ipsita Roy Sarkar
Has it ever happened to you that you have had very fond memories of having immensely enjoyed something – a book, a movie, a play, a particular dish – and you crave to enjoy it once again after many years, but when you finally get to it, you realise, much to your surprise, that you are not liking it at all? Humour is exactly that sort of an emotion. It is a function of time and space. What worked for you several years ago, may not work for you now. What may have seemed funny to you all those years ago, may seem irritating now.
Granted that the breed of humour, you will witness in director duo Rajesh Dutta and Ipsita Roy Sarkar’s latest comedy film Abar Basanta Bilap, may have worked several decades ago. But it is also true that it just does not work in contemporary times. This is slapstick at its loudest, hamming at its weirdest and prejudice comedy in its least acceptable form. Consider this, for instance. No one in ‘Abar Basanta Bilap’ talks normally. Every single character is a caricature, with mannerisms that are exaggerated forms of their typecast traits. So, there is the neighbourhood hoodlum who always talks in a crass, unrefined manner, with a crude grimace permanently plastered to his face. There is an effeminate private tutor who loses himself in dream sequences every time a handsome man comes his way. There is a young unemployed boy whose sole purpose in life seems to be following a young girl down the street and catching her attention by any means available to him. Homophobia, stalking, sexism – you will find everything being glorified in this film. And it is just not funny.
Anadi Chakraborty (played by Kharaj Mukherjee) is a middle-aged poorly paid proofreader in a local publishing house. Anadi’s middle class existence is riddled with all the typical problems – a nagging wife and a good-for-nothing son at home, a taskmaster of a boss in office, and the notorious North Kolkata traffic in between. To add to his woes, Anadi has another problem – he tends to forget things. One day, an attractive woman (played by Moon Moon Sen) arrives at his office and convinces his boss to publish a book she has written. His salivating boss, in turn, asks Anadi to read the manuscript, and Anadi must now deal with the wily advances of the lady to concentrate on the proofs instead. Meanwhile, his unemployed son Shibu is the forlorn lover, who has his eyes set on a pretty lass named Radhika. Radhika keeps fending Shibu off but Shibu is determined to win her love by continuing to pester her on the streets. There is also an effeminate private tutor named Dimpi-da (played by Mir Afsar Ali), who apparently had a crush on a young Rishi Kapoor after watching Saagar, and who now has fallen in love with the friendly neighbourhood goon. With so many characters thrown into the pot, the film could have been an interesting outing, but turns out to be a dud of epic proportions, thanks to poor performance in virtually all departments.
Take acting, for instance. It takes a special kind of weak script to make a stellar actor like Kharaj Mukherjee deliver a bad performance. Except a few rare sparks of brilliance here and there, Mukherjee remains heartbreakingly monotone, clueless about what to do. I am sure you know that bad acting by average actors is hardly ever noticed. It is always bad acting by actors who are otherwise excellent in their art that always pricks your senses. To see Mukherjee fumbling with his lines and the incompetent directions given to him is agonizing, to say the least. Another brilliant actor – Paran Bandopadhyay – is wasted in a poorly written role, and he too hams his way through, which was pretty much what he could do, for lack of a good script. Sen will make you cringe with the corny, double meaning, sexual inuendo-laden lines that the directors have given her, and Ali clearly does not care two hoots about the feelings of the third gender.
At a time when violence towards women is at an all time high in our country, the film glorifies stalking to a shameful degree. The message being sent out is clear – keep pestering her and she will say yes. The clear, unambiguous, polite yet stern, repeated reverberations of ‘NO’ that Radhika keeps throwing back at Shibu all fall in deaf years, and the boy walks away casually to plan his next move on the girl. This is disgusting at a whole new level. The lack of responsibility and sensitivity of the filmmakers – one of whom is a woman herself – is literally unpardonable.
So, to summarise, nothing works in Abar Basanta Bilap – least of all the humour. And for a film that is supposed to be a comedy, that is certainly not good news. If humour is used to criticise a social evil, it is understandable. The moment it is used to condone such evils, it ceases to be humour and becomes an integral and accountable part of the evil itself.
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