Ever wondered how much the contract killers are paid for pressing that glorified trigger? Do they discuss appraisal and career growth among themselves? Do they have their idols and targets, apart from the target? Welcome to the world of Kushan Nandi, the director of Babumoshai Bandookbaaz, where taking lives is just another way of earning a living, double-crossing is second nature to almost everyone, and love is just another word for lust.
Set in a fictitious city, Babumoshai Bandookbaaz is a perfect jugalbandi of Nawazuddin Siddiqui and debutant Jatin Goswami, who is quite a find. After all matching scales with someone like Nawazuddin isn’t a cakewalk and this actor does a remarkable job here, making his mark on the audience and sometimes even toppling over his onscreen mentor.
The other jugalbandi, albeit of a different kind, worth admiring here is between Nawazuddin Siddiqui and debutant Bidita Bag. The actress beautifully strikes a balance between being risqué and sensual, almost teasing the audience, but never titillating. Any other actress in her place would have made her character look vulgar but when Bidita, as the cobbler girl attacks her predators with a nail, you know she means business.
The character of Phulwa is of a strong woman who has been raped by two henchmen of the film’s antagonist and uses Babu, the contract killer to avenge for her. Mind you, this one’s no revenge saga and this plot never takes the centre stage. Nor does the rivalry between Nawazuddin and Jatin, his protégé, and not even the antagonist Anil George and Divya Dutta.
The film centres around the character of Babumoshai Bandookbaaz, i.e. Nawazuddin. In a way, the film is from this character’s point of view and his naïve perception about the world around him. The double crossing, love, revenge, betrayal, bromance, etc. become part of his perception, but never the film’s plot. At the risk of sounding blasphemous, Babumoshai Bandookbaaz is one is one of those rare character-based films like Mrinal Sen’s Bhuvan Shome or Saeed Mirza’s ‘Saleem Langde Pe Mat Ro’, which make an impact without being a plot-based film.
Films of such genre can only be appreciated if you connect with the central character. In Babumoshai Bandookbaaz, we have varied ‘distractions’ in splendid performances by Bidita Bag, Jatin Goswami, Divya Dutta and a brilliant actor playing the role of a cop who doubles up as a henchman for Divya Dutta’s character of a local politician. Despite such distractions, the writer, Ghalib Asad Bhopali ensures that the film doesn’t lose focus from its central character.
This film won’t leave you awestruck like the Gangs of Wasseypur series and won’t even shock you like Satya. But after walking out of the auditorium, you’d know the character of Babumoshai Bandookbaaz so well that you’d find yourself secretly hoping to see Nawazuddin reprise this role in a sequel. We are already waiting.