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Bob Biswas Review

By SUKANYA VERMA
Last updated on: December 03, 2021 13:14 IST
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This poorly paced movie is too dull to be a drama and shows no signs (or intrigue) of a thriller, observes Sukanya Verma.

Bob Biswas cannot remember.

Sounds like a fun idea to pitch for a spin-off about a middle-aged insurance agent, moonlighting as a cold blooded contract killer in Kolkata.

Back in 2012, when we first met him as Saswata Chatterjee in Sujoy Ghosh's Kahaani, he left us gobsmacked with his casual approach to violence.

It came as quite a jolt when an ordinary 9-to-5 office-goer, humiliated by his boss at work, knocks dead a harmless old lady a few hours later.

All through this, Bob is a picture of composure. There's no transformation, no spooky background score to suggest a split identity.

Rather, he sweetly greets his victim and amusedly points out her use of wig before proceeding to bump off the next person on his hit list.

Saswata's brilliant portrayal of such a darkly humoured, unnerving character endeared us to his dispassion in an unforgettable way.

Sujoy Ghosh's fan favourite creation returns in an origins story directed by his daughter Diya Annapurna in an eponymous tale for which he receives story and screenplay credit.

 

As the new face of Bob Biswas, Abhishek Bachchan shrewdly uses his character's amnesia to his benefit, camouflaging his own inexperience while quietly surveying a life, its history until he's got a sufficient hang of it to make it his own.

What is not so subtle is Bachchan's conscious effort in replicating the physicality of Bob Biswas, what with the paunch, the bald patch, the puffy face. It doesn't feel as organic as Saswata.

The only person Bob can scare or startle is Bob himself.

Once Abhishek figures that out, the comparison ceases.

Unfortunately, one cannot say the same about this poorly paced movie that is too dull to be a drama and shows no signs (or intrigue) of a thriller.

Bob Biswas has lost his memory in an accident.

But his wife Mary (a keyed up Chitrangda Singh) and kids, Benny (Ronith Arora), a school-going son and Mini (Samara Tijori), a step daughter preparing for her medical entrance exams, don't fuss over it and go about their business as usual.

Bob navigates through his past life and present through interactions with family and acquaintances, priests and police only to realise a tiger never changes his stripes.

Killing comes naturally to him.

Between his weakly established bonding on the domestic front and a hitman-for-hire digging up a conspiracy pointing out at a cops-drug mafia nexus, there's something about an attention-enhancing blue pill in the market targeting college campuses and an arms dealer (a mesmerising Paran Bandhopadhyay) running an apothecary as a front for his John Wick-like business.

There are endless story arcs and sub plots about unsafe workplaces, school bullies, career pressure, hidden loots, guilty conscience, addiction, karma, yadda yadda for as far as the eye can see and yet nothing of consequence happens inside the supremely dull universe of Bob Biswas.

For a story set in Kolkata, there's hardly any flavour and Dhonu's (Pavbitra Rabha) greasy hakka noodles stall just doesn't cut it.

Many distinguished figures of the Bengali film industry like Paran Bandhopadhyay, Barun Chanda, Rajatava Dutta appear fleetingly and spout words of wisdom in roles that do little justice to their enormous talent.

In just seven scenes of Kahaani, Bob Biswas inspired a sense of mythos and mystery built purely around simplicity and shock value. But by dwelling too deep into his cult without any exciting information to share, the Ghoshs scale down a menacing figure into a mockery.

Bob Biswas starts out as an exploration into an oddity.

But a directionless deconstructing into his morality, obviousness of its storytelling, the clumsy connecting of dots as well as the utter mess the characters and their fates descend into for the sake of a silly payoff can be summarised more woeful than whimsy.

Bob Biswas streams on ZEE5.

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SUKANYA VERMA / Rediff.com