Director: Kushan Nandy
Cast: Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Bidita Bag, Jatin Goswami
A major issue with a film without any moral compass/centre whatsoever is that it’s unlikely to generate much empathy among its audiences, whether for the situations on screen, or the characters concerned. Anybody can be shot at, and die, or not; and since all of them are bad guys anyway, who cares? That's a bummer.
Be that as it may, this is that dystopian, guilty-pleasure, very 'male' movie, if you may, that gracefully avoids descending into obvious misogyny, and which you wish to access precisely for the grime, sex, guns, and a dark-grey world, where practically everyone is so frickin’ twisted in the first place.
The 'Babumoshai Bandookbaaz' in the boondocks is incidentally Babu Bihari, the sharpshooter (Nawazuddin Siddique). Forget small-town, this is almost a rural film. The sharp-shooter has made a name for himself in his UP hamlet over years. One of the young lads (Jatin Goswami) is Babu’s shagird in disguise. He looks up to him and hopes to beat him at his own game. What’s the game, really?
Well there isn’t quite a well thought-out modus operandi frankly, besides that Babu does the hit-job and heads off to a home far away in the fields that no one knows of. Perhaps even that doesn’t matter, since North India is cinematically very much the Wild West, where anything goes, and the boys have a lot to learn from Dirty Harry flicks playing dubbed in Hindi on their television set.
Oh, and another thing about this film’s genre. The gun-slinging hero is usually supposed to be a stylized action-star, walking in slo-mo to scintillating notes on the slide/electric guitar. There’s none of that here. There’s hardly any background score. If anything, Nawaz—the diminutive, casually soft-spoken Everyman in shirt and lungi—is the opposite of obvious swag. You're naturally drawn to him nonetheless because you simply can’t take your eyes off his understated presence. This is not the first time. He literally stoops to conquer.
The beauty of this film is also the sort of fresh talents you see around the li'l guy—the cop character is a complete champ, as is Babu's competitor, or his wife, or the politician…. Together they represent a rather rooted, moody film with a fairly recognizable family tree, some of which show up in obvious nods/tributes to pics like Ram Gopal Varma’s Satya (Babu and his wife at the door, when he returns home), or Gangs Of Wasseypur (the camera gazing at a naked man washing clothes by the tube-well, instead of a woman). Soundtrack sounds slightly Vishal Bharadwaj.
Actually, come to think of it, if you took out all the characters and crime-history from Gangs Of Wasseypur, you’ll come close to this. Given what a masterpiece Gangs was, that’s a pretty good compliment by the way!
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