BYE BYE BANGKOK (2011): Bengali Film Review: Rudraneel Ghosh, Swastika Mukherjee, Locket Chatterjee

February 6, 2011, (Calcutta Tube): BYE BYE BANGKOK is a 2011 Bengali Comedy film starring Rudraneel Ghosh, Swastika Mukherjee, Locket Chatterjee, Neel Mukherjee, Shilajit, Kanchan Mullick and others directed by Aniket Chottopadhyay. Enjoy the complete film review at Calcutta Tube.

Cast and Crew:

  • Banner: R.P. Techvision
  • Produced by: Sibaji Panja
  • Presented by: Kaustav Ray
  • Story, screenplay and direction: Aniket Chattopadhyay
  • Music: Goutam Ghoshal
  • Cinematography: P.B. Chaki
  • Editing: Rabi Ranjan Moitra
  • Art direction: Anindyo Addhya
  • Sound design: Ayon Bhattacharya
  • Cast: Rudraneel Ghosh, Swastika Mukherjee, Locket Chatterjee, Neel Mukherjee, Shilajit, Kanchan Mullick, Kanchona Moitra, Sonali Chowdhury, Biswajit Chakraborty, Rajesh Sharma, Kharaj Mukherjee and Rajatava Dutta
  • Date of release: January 28, 2011
  • Rating: 6/10

RIP-ROARING ADULT COMEDY LACED WITH IRONY

Bye Bye Bangkok is a situational comedy claims its makers. It begins as a situational comedy as four terribly unmatched couples spring out and engage in mundane fights between and among themselves. But as one gets by, the ‘situation’ turns serious and metamorphoses into a soft version of an adult sex comedy with a some doses of satire thrown in. Unlike the British sex comedy that stepped into the mainstream in 1976, in Bengali cinema, it is almost an unknown entity. Bengali filmmakers tend to shy away from being too bold for two reasons – uncertainty about audience response and the killing scissors of the Censor board. Bye Bye Bangkok plays a balancing act between the situational and the sex by using more innuendo than sex in depicting the amusing game of musical chairs in Bangkok as the couples switch their partners unknown to themselves and to the partners resulting in hilarious situations.

The biscuit seller (Kanchan Mullick) flies off with the college professor (Anjana Basu) who wants to be ‘immoral’ to avenge her husband. The husband (Shilajit) makes ad films but wants to be an art film director. He packs an award-obsessed social worker (Sonali Choudhury) under his arm and flies to Bangkok tempting the potential producer of his potential film with the carrot of a possible international award. The social worker’s husband (Kharaj Mukherjee), a very rich dealer in real estate has a penchant for food and women. He takes his girlfriend (Kanchana Moitra), a small-time model to Bangkok to keep her happy. Kanchana’s husband is the biscuit-seller who unwillingly steps in as the professor’s husband in order to claim the company’s Rs.80, 000 he will get at the end of the trip for having sold the winning ticket. There is one more couple – a high-flying software guy (Neel Mukherjee) with a pretty secretary (Swastika Mukherjee), a distraught wife (Locket Chatterjee) and a watchful driver (Rudraneel Ghosh). When the wife walks out in a huff with driver in tow, the husband flies off to Bangkok with his forgetful secretary. Everyone lands up in the same hotel except the software guy who thinks this one is too middle-class.

Bye Bye Bangkok
Bye Bye Bangkok

The actors, who are not top brass, every single one of them including the travel agent (Biswajit Chakraborty) takes the icing and the cake along with him or her. Rudraneel as Sadhucharan, nostalgic about his Sashthitala, aloor dum and his passport he loves more than his life holds the film together like an anchor of a moored ship about to set sail. The shots of the corner shop where the old vendor sells tea and snacks are as memorable as the forgetful secretary recalling after painful attempts that Sadhucharan used to sell coriander in a corner far away. What begins as a silly joke between Sadhucharan and the lost secretary ends in a warm bonding between them. The punched song beginning with a Tagore number is picturised, positioned and orchestrated extremely well.

The narrative is a roller-coaster ride between and among characters who evoke fun by their interactions with their respective spouses, even when they are sparring like mad, sometimes touched with feather-light brush strokes of something that lies deeper, hidden underneath the sparring. When everyone flies to Bangkok, the city is not promoted as Oriental exotica, but only as a place of escape and asylum from marriages that have stepped into a stasis and as the central location where the hilarious take-offs take place. The biscuit seller hiding under mounds of sand to escape his wife’s eye who touches his hair and says, “See, how real this hair looks,” is hilarious. The same goes for Rudraneel calling the manager all kinds of names only to discover in the end that he knows Bengali! Another very funny touch is when the biscuit seller finds the real estate fellow’s partner’s voice very familiar and the real estate guy says she works on a FM Channel! The smoke alarm going off to trigger fire alarms as a strategy to let all the cats out of their respective bags is very ingenuous and funny. The sexual innuendos come across succinctly when Sadhucharan goes eavesdropping at night from door and door and gives the exchanges behind the door his own meanings.

The crazy woman (Priya Karfa) who wanders across the hotel imagining she is the mafia don’s wife is a superfluous intrusion who takes away the fun instead of adding to it. It is also without logic because the hotel must have security personnel to stave off intruders! Sadhucharan goes down to the reception to ask for a pillow which should have been done through room service. The sharing of room and bed by switched partners that remains absolutely platonic is a bit too far-fetched that seems like a safety valve the filmmaker clutches on to just in case! The potshots taken at art films sand art filmmakers are too pointed and clear to be missed but put across in good humour.

The film is structured as a flashback from the point of view of Sadhucharan, the driver left behind by his employers because he ‘caught everyone in the act’ and even had the gumption to tell on them! They even take away his passport. Within this driver’s story lies the seriousness of what apparently unfolds as a poking at the hypocrisy that lies between the lines of the institution of marriage in an urban Kolkata setting. There are political resonances that take open pot-shots, very slyly though, at the ‘change’ promised by an opposing political party. There are social resonances too, that point out, not very subtly, at the petty bourgeoisie (the couples) hitting out at the proletariat – Sadhucharan, when the roller-coaster ride turns a bit too dicey for matrimonial comfort. This happens even though at least one couple – the biscuit seller and his wife the model who sleeps around for a foreign junket, are hardly better off than the Sadhucharan.

The darker resonances come off only towards the end when a deeply sozzled Sadhucharan breaks down and narrates his story to a stranger, a Bengali filmmaker looking for a good ‘story.’ The other character left behind to fend for herself in a foreign land waiting at tables is the software man’s forgetful secretary who has a typing speed of 120 wpm that helped her hold on to her job. The film closes on the romantic touch of the two finding each other. The film director leaves the scene, leaving the young couple to write their own story.

Shoma A. Chatterji

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