In one of the scenes, a character in the film is watching a dubbed version of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. It is a nod to the inspiration behind Babumoshai Bandookbaaz. However, a true blue Western in the Indian context is as much a misfit as a dhoti clad dacoit in the arid lands of Texas. An Indian equivalent of the cowboy land is the badlands of UP where Babu Bihari (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) is a famed contract killer who works for a politician Jiji (Divya Dutta). He is resented by her other henchmen, chief among them Triloki (Murli Sharma).
Babu is a man with no particular ambition in life other than being a good contract killer and having sex. He is successful in the former and his liaison with Phulwa (Bidita Bag) provides him with loads of the latter. Life is going smooth till Babu falls out with Jiji and is hired by Jiji’s rivals to get rid of her trusted henchmen, including Triloki.
To complicate matters, Babu meets Banke (Jatin Goswami), who considers Babu his guru but is ready to upstage Babu and take his place. Banke has been hired to kill the same henchmen that Babu had taken the contract for. The two killers partner up to see who would make the kill and get the money. There’s a lot of double crossing and after a while it is hard to figure out who is fighting for whom. Eventually Babu is shot and believed to be dead.
It seems the makers had planned the film so far but did not think about how to take the film to its logical conclusion. To keep the film going, they have allowed big holes, rather craters, in the film that is simply hard to digest. Babu is supposed to recuperate in the general ward of a hospital for seven years (yes, that’s years) all the while being comatose. In a country where hospitals barely function and dying people are carried off on cycle and carts, we are supposed to believe that a hospital cared for a comatose man for years with no regard to who was going to pay the bills. Anyhow, the stage is set for a revenge drama but again the script lets the film down badly. There’s no planning or intelligence in Babu’s revenge. All he does is show up with a gun and kill everybody. If Babu was so powerful to take out even the politicians in power, I wonder why he was working for them in the first place. They should have been working for him instead.
Now coming to the much-in-the-news sex scenes. Firstly, the scenes are not as bold as they were made out to be. Secondly, I don’t think the film would have been hampered much if those scenes were not there either. There was over-reaction from the censor board and over-emphasis by the makers about the importance of the scenes as well. There sure are many cuss words but then this film is not the only one that uses them. Cuss words have come to be accepted in cinema.
Nawazuddin Siddiqui as usual turns in a solid performance. What he lacks in physicality, he more than makes up in acting. Jatin Goswami is a revelation. He not only holds his own against Nawaz but sometimes even surpasses him. I do hope he gets his due from Hindi cinema. Bidita Bag got a great opportunity to showcase her talent and she made good use of it. Hopefully, she will be cast for her talent and not get typecast for “bold scenes” going forward.
I think the makers had a great idea, fell so much in love with the ambience of the movie that they invested all their energy in endless posturing and shocking the audience. Sadly they lost focus of the critical element of a film – the script. Babumoshai Bandookbaaz is a film that could have been but is not.
By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=54866929
Rating : 2/5
Starring: Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Bidita Bag, Jatin Goswami, Divya Dutta, Murli Sharma, Shraddha Das
Director: Kushan Nandy