Bangistan is not the political satire it claims to be, says Nishi Tiwari.
You know a political satire is a colossal failure if you can’t tell who the joke is really on.
The only funny gag in film critic-turned-filmmaker Karan Anshuman’s debut feature Bangistan appears towards the end.
Two people cosplaying as stormtroopers make a fleeting appearance at a religious conference in Krakow, Poland, where the heads of religious faiths from all around the world have assembled to witness a Shankaracharya and Imam broker peace between warring neighbours -- the fictional lands of South and North Bangistan.
And while the film -- a sum total of half-baked gags masquerading as a parody of communal tension in the social media age -- is replete with nods to cinematic wonders like Citizen Kane, Taxi Driver, Sholay and the aforementioned Star Wars, it fails spectacularly.
Two religious extremists -- Pravin Chaturvedi (Pulkit Samrat) and Hafiz Bin Ali (Riteish Deshmukh) -- are commissioned as suicide bombers to attack said conference in Poland.
While Pravin is a failed actor, Hafiz is a bit of a pushover at home and at work –- a call centre set up in a cave in the Muslim part of Bangistan.
The religious leaders they look up to –- a local Hindu right winger and Maa Ka Dal party leader and a Jihadist leading the Al-Kaam Tamaam party respectively (both played competently by Kumud Mishra) -- feed off their desperate need for approval.
Both Samrat and Deshmukh show flashes of comedic flair routinely in the film but their collective performances don’t amount to much in the end.
Then there’s Chandan Roy Sanyal, the street smart Bangadeshi immigrant Tameem, who briefly lends some hilarity purely by way of his performance.
But there’s only so much you can do with a weak story and direction.
Jacqueline Fernandez as the genial bartender Rosie makes a special appearance.
Bangistan spends most of its runtime cloyingly trying to establish itself as a satire, when the best it delivers is a haphazardly put together set-pieces and characters we just can’t be bothered about.
To top it all, the film wobbles towards its climax in a way that is clumsier than its narrative.
From social misfits to suicide bombers and eventually reformed pacifists, Pravin and Hafiz launch into abrupt and overly preachy monologues to wrap up the proceedings just as hurriedly as they had begun.
Bangistan is eventually reduced to being a satire on the notion of a satire, falling tremendously short of a bang for your buck.