Review Bengali Film BONDHU TOMAR – UNWATCHABLE: Bondhu Tomar is a 2010 Bengali Movie directed by Arup Kumar De, starring Soumitra Chattejree, Biswajit Chakraborty, Milan Roychoudhury, Sudipta Banerjee and others. Read the Exclusive CalcuttaTube Review.
Cast and Crew:
- Producer: Joydeep Ghosh
- Story and direction: Arup Kumar De
- Music: Kalyan Sen Barat
- Cast: Soumitra Chattejree, Biswajit Chakraborty, Milan Roychoudhury, Sudipta Banerjee, Manoj Ojha, Arpita Mukherjee, Hara Pattanaik, Shubhaprasanna and Rupankar
- Date of Release: June 18 2010
- Rating: 1/10
To be a reviewer or critic of Bengali cinema, mainstream or off-mainstream today is a learning exercise in patience and forbearance. This is especially true at a time when directors are as if, springing out of the woodwork every other day, without either experience or training but with producers willing to back their projects with some rare loolah. With two or three releases every week, hardly one film manages to pass muster and get a rating point of say, five on ten. It is miserable to have to watch a film from beginning to end where there is no story, no character development, no proper script, and no actors. The music is there just because it has to be there like the dream song sequences that hardly belong to the story or the film.
Arup Kumar De’s Bondhu Tomar is an illustration in point. It opens with a very badly picturised and choreographed song sequence with Rupankar supposed to be centre stage but very rarely is. Cut to a medium long-shot of a tall young man in glasses with a solemn expression on his face standing outside an art academy to drill home the point that he is an artist. If there is no link between the first scene and the second, that seems to be the director’s treatment of the film from beginning to end. The title of the film Bondhu Tomar looks like a celebration of friendship. The film is anything but. Our hero, the grim-faced, bespectacled Neelabho (Manoj Das) seems to have the same expression glued to his unsmiling face. In his studio-cum apartment, he converses with a large portrait he has painted of Jhilmil (Arpita Chatterjee), a college friend who he was crazily in love with. Jhilmil was never in love with him and cheerfully walks into a NRI marriage to disappear from the film to remain alive for some time in the portrait in Neelabho’s studio to give him company.
Neelabho is so lacking in social skills that one wants to write him off as autistic. That he is not one is proved when he tries to commit suicide on the railway tracks only to be rescued by another pretty girl Urmi, who springs from thin air and promptly falls in love with her, not knowing anything about her family, profession, whatever. When he discovers about her double life, he throws everything around in his studio to pine for her. Urmi (Sudipta) the girl in question comes to confess but faints in shock. A sympathetic Neelabho gathers her in his arms and gets into a very patient-friendly nursing home run by Dr. Chhetri (Soumitra Chatterjee) who happens to be the only doctor with a single nurse and this single patient in the single bed. Dr Chhetri is moved by the girl’s plight because he lost his lady love to the same illness many years ago and is hell-bent on saving this love story from going the same tragic route. Urmi is cured and Neelabho drives away with her in a Tata Sumo whose origins, considering the fact that he hardly works for a living is a mystery one hopes the director does not want to solve in a sequel!
The dream song sequences shot on some beach with the waves (Urmi) lapping against the background of a blue sky (Neelabho) are terribly out of place and Sudipta who tries to give of her best in a confusing role finds it difficult to carry the heavy make-up and the bizarre costume changes. The story tries to justify Neelabho’s negative shades by gifting him with a sad childhood where his mother died in a tragic accident, his father got himself a new wife and promptly forgot all about this small boy. Urmi’s story is almost similar but more real than Neelabho’s. The story is neither here nor there and when the director realises that he cannot end the film, he rides piggy-back on the segment involving Soumitra Chatterjee and his computer games! There is a terrible scene of an art exhibition inaugurated by noted painter Suvaprasanna portraying himself. Looking at the horrendous quality of the paintings on show, all executed by Neelabho, one shudders to think how and why Suvaprasanna agreed to be part of this film and this scene!
If there is any saving grace in the film, it comes in the shape of Susmita Majumdar who portrays Urmi’s crazy sister. She is really good. Milan Roychoudhury as her father converts himself to a glycerine factory when his daughter falls sick. Arpita is no good and Biswajit Chakraborty is reduced to a junior artiste as her father. The worst part of the film is Manoj Ojha as Neelabho who is just a block of wood and even the glasses cannot hide his blank eyes. A few scenes are cinematographed well but most of the film does not even demand challenging cinematography. This film dispensed with the need of an editor because the script did not need one.
In sum, I hate to say it but must that Bondhu Tomar is a film that should never have been made. Friendship as a concept is conspicuous by its absence. The hero does not have a single friend he can relate to. The heroine too, has no friend. Her sister is crazy so is incapable of making friends. So what kind of ode to friendship is this all about?
by Shoma A. Chatterji