By A Special Correspondent
First publised on 2020-07-02 20:33:54
With a two-line story, not many sub-plots and little in-depth characterization, it is very difficult to make a two hour movie. Bhonsle (streaming on Sony Liv) moves at its own languid pace to show the conflict between migrants (or outsiders) and locals (or sons-of-the soil) in a crumbling chawl in Mumbai. It is the story of a retired policeman of the Mumbai Police, played with amazing brilliance and authority by Manoj Bajpayee (who has also produced the film) who is disinterested in the goings-on at the beginning but gets involved due to circumstances. It is the story that shows how youngsters are misled into believing that the bhaiyas, or people from Bihar and UP, are usurping the rights of the bhaus, or the Marathi manoos. It shows how leaders poison their minds to make them commit violence against the people who do all the backend work to keep the Maximum City running. Ganpati Bappa is used as a motif throughout the film and it gives it a distinct identity.
Director Devashish Makhija has a habit of juxtaposing images to show certain happenings. But he stretches things too far. In the opening scenes, while Bajpayee is shown taking off his uniform (as it is last day of service), an artisan is shown painting and dressing up a Ganpati idol. Similarly, when Bhonsle is shown waiting for the senior officer to come and inform him about the fate of his extension of service application, he juxtaposes it with Vilas (Santosh Juvekar), the Marathi taxi driver who is trying to unite all Marathis in the chawl against the bhiyas, waiting to meet his leader. But these scenes have little meaning. The repetition of several cinematically beautiful scenes in the beginning when Bhonsle is shown going through daily chores makes them less beautiful. The movie could have been 20 minutes shorter to be more hard-hitting.
The denouement, though sudden, will hit you hard. Manoj Bajpayee becomes Bhonsle in body and soul. He is brilliant in the scene where he exposes Vilas before the residents when he tries to appropriate an act that he did not do. Throughout the film, Bajpayee brings out the loneliness of the character excellently and his walk, action and voice are all in perfect sync with the character. Ipsita Chakraborty as the Bihari doctor is good. But Abhishek Banerjee is wasted in a small, though not inconsequential, role. Bhonsle is not a film that will be liked by everyone. In fact, many will find it pretentious and boring. But it is a film that reaffirms that Manoj Bajpayee is one of the finest actors in Hindi cinema.