Film: The Bong Connection
Director: Anjan Dutt
Producer: Joy Ganguly
Cast: Shyan Munshi, Piya Rai Choudhari, Raima Sen, Parambrata Chatterjee, Victor Banerjee
It’s not the typical song, dance and hullabaloo; neither does it fit the so called ‘crossover’ cinema bill. The Bong Connection is yet another product, resultant of the need to create a non mainstream, meaningful film yet bound by the need to be an outright commercial success(such a paradox).
This film is the story of two young men who travel great distances to realize their dreams. For Andy (Shyan Munshi), Kolkata is a rich cultural and musical centre, through his search; he realizes its stagnant state. On the other hand, Apu (Parambrata), success is measured in monetary terms. He leaves his land and heads to Houston, only to realize, that Kolkata is where his heart lies. The two stories run parallel, and at several points collide through other characters, almost like fleeting encounters.
Comedy is the essence with which the film has been treated. Serious and complex issues are dealt with humor and cynicism. While this is fresh, the commercial stints are seen throughout, making it on the whole a restrained watch.
The plot is not simple, while the crux of the story is, the tangents it delves into isn’t. From being about finding self identity to what their land means to them to somewhere a fleeting encounter, the film has too much to tell (considering the fact it’s about two people). While reasonably each of the tangents moves into telling more about the character, it is the greater complexity that it shudders into that is a problem. The sheer magnitude of information delivered in those few hours becomes hard to swallow and digest.
Each lead character is chalked out with great amount of depth and background, aiding in being extremely convincing. But then the few others that are mere fillers seem to have been spared of this task, thus in each scene they are present, they draw attention to themselves. At times the lives of the friends of the lead characters take precedence over the leads themselves, this is bothersome as it is trivial to what is being said on the larger front.
Additionally the dialogues are casual, while in most parts they work in the films favor, a few hours down it is like watching a recreation of a situation that might have occurred long back.
Technically the film is a seesaw. The polish and luster seem missing; the colors are dull and flat. The vibrancy of the cities that could have very well have been shown time and again, is done rarely. But then the editing and marvelous cuts take the film up by many notches. One can’t begin to describe the manner the film is edited, the time to deliver a response is edited, delivering just the reaction (so you have characters responding just as you would in real life, with instant reactions). Most of the time, the scenes and shots are well thought of and framed, however at times the need to make a point goes a bit far. With so much meaning in the film, it is scary to imagine that you might just end up reading more than intended.
The film marvelously captures the emotion and pseudo home sick talk a million odd Non resident Indians (including myself) provide at the gatherings they organize among their own community members. But then this moment is only expressed a few times, where as this could have been a story in itself. Additionally the comic vein the film is treated with is novel and enjoyable.
Great depths in characters have led to great performances, especially in Munshi’s case. He delivers his role with great flair. Each line, expression and action strikes the right chord. Parambrata puts life in his character, his body language and dialogue delivery is great. Sen and Choudhari do nothing sensational, they begin on a great note and soon turn distressing, by overdoing an action over and over. The other characters including Banerjee, Kundragrami and Soumitra Chatterjee do well, but then the movie isn’t really about them, one would have liked to see more of them though.
On the whole The Bong connection moves slowly and encompasses too much, it’s great in parts and that’s about it.