We all have our guilty pleasures. We are not algorithms, after all. Every once in a while, we tend to break the rules that we had imposed upon ourselves, in a bid to snatch a moment of unrestricted fun and harmless sin. We try to open our minds and let in all those feelings and emotions that we had consciously kept at bay up until then. It is exactly with such an intention that I had started watching Birsa Dasgupta’s new film Bibaho Obhijaan. And I had hoped – perhaps against hope – that I would begin to like the self-admittedly loud, unabashedly boisterous and out-and-out comedy film. But 15 minutes into the film, I realised that I was wrong. Despite a few rare laugh-out-loud moments, the film just didn’t work for me.
Do note, though – that there is nothing wrong in being either loud or boisterous. In the history of cinema, not just of our country but the cinema of the world, there have been numerous examples of loud and rambunctious comedy films – some of which have found their places in the holy shelves of greatness. But there was one thing which was common in all those films. They were funny. Unfortunately, for most of its two-hour duration, Bibaho Obhijaan is simply not funny enough. And when a comedy film is not funny, there is a problem.
Dasgupta’s film tells the story of two young men – Rajat and Anupam – who are utterly frustrated with the way their wives treat them at home. Rajat, for instance, hates the fact that his wife Maya – who hails from a village – is excessively superstitious, devout and lost in her own world of television soap operas. Anupam, on the other hand, is fed up with his wife Rai, who is a bit too aggressive for his liking, and spends her days protesting against social injustice and bad governance. Desperate to break free from their doting wives for a few days, the two men concoct a story and try to leave the city, but through a series of confusions, end up being abducted by a dacoit with a speech impediment that makes him talk in stutters and spoonerisms. As it turns out, even the dacoit has a tragic tale of his own.
Honestly, I did not expect this film – or any film, for that matter – to be consistently funny. Humour is always best enjoyed in short, crisp bursts. But after a somewhat decent beginning, Bibaho Obhijaan suddenly took a nosedive and started fading out. The jokes stopped landing, the exaggerations stopped working and the humour was literally being forced down the throat, which is very sad because the premise of the film is quite nice. There was one more problem which began to creep into the film by the end of the first quarter. You see, humour also has the bad habit of being notoriously inelastic. If you try to stretch it, it will snap. Even in slapstick comedy, which is more physical than situational, which is loud and far from being subtle, you need some semblance of restraint. It has to stop somewhere for it to hit its spot. It is this restraint that is missing in Bibaho Obhijaan, which often loses control and goes a bit too far.
It would be unwise to search for logic in a film that does not claim to be logical. But a third problem in Bibaho Obhijaan needs to be addressed, and it has got little to do with logic and more to do with what’s right and what’s wrong. Since time immemorial, one man has always laughed at the expense of another. But in the 21st century, there are certain things that we just don’t do, even in jest. Even if it was unintentional, I did not like the fact that at least some part of the humour in Dasgupta’s film was homophobic. Could I have taken it lightly and passed it on as some joke that didn’t work for me, but others might have enjoyed? I gave it a lot of thought and reached the conclusion that I couldn’t.
So, what was it that really worked for me in this comedy adventure? The first thing that comes to my mind is Anirban Bhattacharya. There would not be an ounce of exaggeration to say that if he would not have been in the film, the film would have fared very, very poorly. The young actor single-handedly saves the film from sinking and is clearly its biggest star. Bhattacharya’s acting is so good, his comic timing so impeccable and – most important of all – what he does between his dialogue delivery, when the camera is not even focusing on him, that seemingly inconsequential but deceptively crucial part of his performance is so accurately brilliant, that it forces me to say that he is one of the finest actors of our times. And like any fine actor, he commits himself to the role that he has been offered, and does it well, irrespective of all the mayhem around him.
Rudranil Ghosh and Ankush Hazra both overact to the point of no return. A brilliant actor otherwise, Ghosh clearly lets go of all his control for this film – one that he himself has written and scripted – but in doing so, ends up shedding a bit too much. Although I am sure he always knew this would happen, but no one would remember Rudranil Ghosh for Bibaho Obhijaan, just like no one would remember Naseeruddin Shah for Jalwa. Hazra, on the other hand, gives some rare glimpses of beautiful acting, but such glimpses are quickly lost in the tumultuous waves of overacting that he oh-so-ruthlessly keeps sending our way. He has some cool dance moves though, I have to give him that. Sohini Sarkar is quite good as the domesticated lass who worships her husband, and Nusrat Fariya tries to paint a potent picture of a fiercely independent woman, but ends up making a caricature of the same.
The other good thing about the film is its music. Not those please-laugh-now sort of effects in the background, but the soundtrack, which sadly comprises of just two songs. But other than these redeeming features, I am sorry to say that I did not like Bibaho Obhijaan at all. Birsa Dasgupta and his entire crew and cast clearly had a blast making this film. But sadly, as a comedy, it simply didn’t work, at least for me. Perhaps it’s just not my kind of humour. I’m going with 1.5 stars, and half-a-star more for the one truly good attraction of the film – the ‘dearsome facoit’ Bullet Singh.
Updated Date: Jun 28, 2019 17:01:45 IST