Bangistan Review: More Smoke Than Fire

Bangistan-Critic turned director Karan Anshuman’s script, co-written with Puneet Krishna and Sumit Purohit, has an interesting idea in it. The idea is simple – the clash between two faiths represented by the manipulation of the naïve by the ambitious. Sadly the execution of this supposed satire is also simplistic. The humour, gags, speeches and characters are immature and literal and the final outcome disappointingly hollow.

Hafiz Bin Ali (Riteish Deshmukh) lives on the northern part of the fictitious state of Bangistan where he works as a BPO worker. He finds purpose in his otherwise meaningless existence when he is inducted to spread the message of the dominance of a fringe group Maa Ka Dal. Hafiz begins his training to transform into a Hindu and set off a bomb at the World Religions Conference in Poland. Across the waters, in the southern part of Bangistan, a local actor with limited talent Pravin Chaturvedi (Pulkit Samrat) is also in training, with the same mission, except he is learning the ways of Islam to pose as a terrorist and set off a suicide bomb.

Through the two fledgling local groups – Maa Ka Dal and Al Kaam Tamaam – Anshuman sets out to use satire to spotlight the Hindu-Muslim divide but instead he delivers a school-level sermon on the subject. He overuses devices like painting everything Hindu orange and everything Muslim in green. Once in Poland, Hafiz (now posing as Ishwarchand) and Pravin (now Allah Rakha) become friends, teach other a thing or two about each other’s religions and sing along with bar waitress Rosie (Jacqueline Fernandez).

The action culminates at the Conference. The climax comes across as a poor cousin of some fancy dress party with Deshmukh lumped with an embarrassingly immature speech on tolerance, a cringing bromance in the bathroom and Arya Babbar managing to overact even when covered by a burqa!

What the cinematography and locations add, the songs take away. The lyrics (Puneet Krishna) jump out of the film – and not in a good way. Sample this: “Engineer na banunga, Na dentist banunga, Mummy mujhko teri kasam terrorist banunga’’!

Of the cast, while Deshmukh stays within character and succeeds in touching the audience, Samrat derails the scenes with his hamming. In a clever move, Anshuman casts Kumud Mishra in dual parts as the leader of both the Muslim and Hindu groups. Fernandez’s presence is nothing more than eye candy. Let’s hope that in his next film Anshuman will feel less of a need to make a ‘commercial’ film and instead make a film with substance.

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Tara Agrawal

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