Everyone had piled hate on the trailer because people loved the creepy Bob Biswas (played by Saswata Chatterjee) in the movie Kahaani.
An unassuming man who shoots to kill. I had kept quiet because there’s no fighting fan clubs. I like the movie/show choices Abhishek Bacchan has been making. Whether it is Bunty Aur Babli and Ludo (which I loved) or Breathe: Into The Shadows (which I thought was ugh!). Regardless, he is slowly carving out his own space, away from his dad’s body of work.
So the boot cut jeans walla con artist Bunty turns into a puffy cheeked Hitler hairdo walla ‘Bob babu’ who blinks as he wears his oversized spectacles.
He’s just being discharged from the hospital and the doctor says, ‘It’s going to take time for you to remember everything.’
This Grouch on the Couch perked up. This is a great premise. So many possibilities! Thankfully I make it a point to not watch trailers for such films because Bollywood tends to tell the whole story instead of cutting a trailer.
And you’d be advised to not say ridiculous things like ‘Could they not have a Bengali actor play Bob Biswas?’ or ‘Why could they not have Saswata Chatterjee play himself in the movie?’
Bah! Says this Grouch. Abhishek Bachchan makes a cool Bob Biswas. He doesn’t have to put on an extra Bengali accent or nothing. Neither does he eat Puchkas or Rosogollas. I loved him eating fried noodles at the local stall. I loved that casual racism in the dude at the bar calling the guy ‘Chow mein’.
The script makes it natural instead of giving him the ‘i’m a badass so i will speak this gangster dialog’ we have heard in just about every show on OTT platforms.
Purab Kohli sells drugs to kids which makes you wonder if this is going the Udta Punjab way, but thankfully it is not. Neither is it Limitless or Charlie Bartlett. Grouch is satisfied.
There are baddies who are trying to push Bob into rehabilitation: Kaam shuru kar do Bob. Then there’s the Medicine shop run by Kali Da (Paran Bandopadhyay) who cures Bob’s memory glitch by giving him Nux Vomica.
Every scene in the medicine shop is wonderful. Kali Da is like Q for Bob’s Bond. But as Kali Da says, ‘There are rules to be followed’ And even the Grouch is bound by rules. Shall not give away spoilers.
The script is not perfect, The two thugs/cops who are Bob’s ‘handlers’ (for the lack of any other label) are shown to be talking to the doc when Bob is released from the hospital.
Why they know the doc and why the doc is being mysterious we will never know. Also, the script forgets that there was the ghastly demonetization when Bob’s memory was effed. So had he hid old notes, he would really be poor.
Chitrangada Singh who plays Mary Biswas insists that the house they’re living in is smaller than the one they had to sell to pay for hospital bills. When you look at the house, you know you’d kill for real estate like that.
Best part of the film is Bob. He looks pathetic when he follows the kid with the rabbit or when requests the neighbor to shut his windows because Mini (played by Samara Tijori) has an exam. But Kali Da’s medicine in the paper bag soon fixes that.
The story moves, but sometimes at too slow a pace. The female cop shows up out of nowhere and begins to suspect Bob. How? Why? Not convincing at all.
But Bob has it under control. There’s this innate sense of decency, despite his instant killing of targets he’s been asked to kill. His ‘How the heck did I do that?!’ expressions look and feel genuine.
This grouch guffawed at many places and paused the film to refill chai. Also grateful that the director did not put Bob Biswas in a tram just to give us the Kolkata feels. But altogether, happy to see Abhishek Bachchan emerge as an actor who is making unusual choices instead of getting stuck in ghastly movies with talking CGI parrots.
Bob Biswas streams on Zee5. Watch! Especially because the last scene comes full circle to what you saw in Kahaani.
And yes, why is the old man in the alley credited as ‘Nemai Ghosh’? How can anyone else in the movies be Nemai? Grouch is outraged.