AMI MONTRI HOBO (2012) Bengali Film Review– REMAKE OF A POPULAR PLAY

It is difficult to fathom the psychology among filmmakers who decide to work on remakes when Bengali literature is flush with wonderful short stories, novels, plays and even poetry. Is this a sign of lack of originality? Or is it a risk filmmakers are willing to take rather than bank on a new story or novel? Unlike Agneepath, Ami Montri Hobo is a celluloid remake of a very popular staged play that had a long run in Kolkata in the late 1960s. It carried the same name and had the same author, Sunil Chakraborty.

 

 

 

Not having had the opportunity of watching the original play, this critic cannot compare between the play and the film. Taking the film as a venture independent of its ‘remake’ label, one is disappointed with the fare that comes across. The film features one of the best comedians in Bengali cinema in the central role of Jadu Dutta. Kharaj Mukherjee is one of the best actors we have in Bengali cinema today. Dharma, the local moneylender who chooses to back Jadu’s rival Sudarshan is portrayed by veteran actor Dulal Lahiri. Manasi Sinha as Jadu’s wife and Shakuntala Barua as Dharma’s wife are equally renowned actors. Yet, the film fails miserably to take off because of lack of cohesion and control by the director.

 

The story has as much political relevance as it had more than four decades ago. The film could have come off very well as a black, political comedy and satire if there was some tightness in the script and the people involved. The narrative explores how Jadu Dutta, an illiterate businessman who has tons of black money, suddenly decides to stand in the elections. But his rival, Sudarshan Roy Choudhury, well-known for his good deeds and welfare-oriented perspective wins hands down helped with the financial backing of Dharma, the local moneylender who has a bone to pick with Jadu Dutta. Jadu not only loses his money and wealth but also the backing of his own children and the goodwill of his neighbours. The only saving grace is that his elder son, who was in love with Dharma’s daughter, brings his bride home to his parents and peace is finally restored.

Jadu Dutta’s political symbol is the bamboo, which he gifts away generously along with pots of money to buy the people who would otherwise vote for Sudarshan. They take the money and the bamboo but betray him at the polls. The bamboo has a colloquial reference in Bengali that means ‘making a big fool of someone’. It works both ways in this film and could have done wonders had the director known how to use it. The bamboo here is used as an electoral symbol that signifies an illiterate man using the bamboo to fool his voters yet getting fooled by them in the final analysis. Within a larger framework, it also suggests how an affluent man unfit to stand in the elections could make a ‘bamboo’ out of the people who would vote for him in case he won.

 

The acting is nothing home to write about except for Dulal Lahiri who pours his heart into his character and Subhrajit Dutta who plays Jadu’s elder son. Kharaj Mukherjee in the lead does not seem quite with-it, Manasi is too loud for good while Anamika Saha has too little footage to show anything worthwhile. The rest fall prey to bad filmmaking.

 

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Monday, January 30, 2012

 

 

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