|Ami Subhash Bolchhi|
Ami Subhash Bolchhi-Bengali Movie PosterAug 20, 2011 (Moviemaat): Ami Subhash Bolchhi is a 2011 Bengali movie directed by Mahesh Manjrekar with Mithun Chakraborty, Laboni Sarkar, Barkha Bisht, Shaheb Bhattacharya, Anindo Banerjee and others in the cast. Read the Bengali movie review at Moviemaat.
Ami Subhash Bolchhi is a Bengali adaptation of Mahesh Manjrekar’s Marathi film Mi Shivajiraje Bhonsale Boltoy. The Bengali version is a rather crude and diluted tribute to the memory of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose contrary to what the director promised and Mithun Chakraborty endorsed. It is surprising for a director who can so beautifully blend the aesthetic with the social in a film like Astitva – never loud, not crude, with lovely music and a bit of sentimental melodrama can also play to the gallery with a crude homage to India’s most courageous and original thinker Subhash Bose.
The story revolves around Debashish Bose (Mithun Chakraborty), a timid clerk in a bank who takes in all the insults and humiliations he faces without as much as a whimper. He is a reflection, the film tries to put across, of the contemporary Bengali – timid, succumbing, ordinary and unambitious. When everyone turns his life into one big hell-hole of misery, including his wife (Laboni Sarkar) and children (Shaheb Chatterjee and Barkha Bisht), Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose (Anindo Banerjee) appears in his dream along with a segment of his INA regiment, reprimanding him for taking everything lying down, against the spirit of the Bengali identity that once made the country proud with some of the greatest names in cultural and scientific history.
Aided by the spirit of Netaji and his able assistant, Debashish Bose rises to every occasion, puts his foot down and rebels against every injustice to redeem the pride of the contemporary Bengali in his identity. He flies to Mumbai to quarrel with the director who refused to give his daughter a role in his film though she topped the audition because being a Bengali, her Hindi would not be up to the mark. Slowly, his wife and kids turn around and back him up to fight the builder Dholakia (Bharat Kaul) tooth and nail and stop him from trying to appropriate his house by hook or crook. In the end, even this builder puts up his bloodied hand in a salute, waves at his attacker Debashish to announce that he is proud to be a Bengali!
The film is meant partly to showcase the versatility of Mithun Chakraborty and partly to use stock clippings of the Shivaji Maharaj episode of having beaten Afzal Khan and his troops to victory from Mi Shivajiraje Bhonsale Boltoy. But the main motive – commerce – has not hit the mark. Even with Mithun’s name and face on the billboards, the second day screenings played out to near-empty theatres.
There are too many logical lapses. On the one hand, we see Debashish being reprimanded by a shop owner for touching a shirt on display again and again. Yet, we find him living in a sprawling home and buying his son an expensive two-wheeler at the drop of a shirt! He drinks himself crazy at a pub and gets bashed up for badmouthing the waiter and the owner. He takes a flight to Mumbai to argue with the Bengali director. Where does the money come from?
The fantasy scenes with Netaji and company on some hilltop are crudely composed, orchestrated and picturised. Debashish surrounded by terrible bust-size figures of Bengal’s great men is very badly done. But it is Shivaji’s sword returned to Netaji by Debashish that finally turns the film into a joke on itself. Laboni is not the tearful mother we see in every film though she gesticulates too much. Barkha gives a restrained performance while Shaheb has little to show. Anindo is a rather poor version of our great hero but it is not his fault. The dialogues are pithy and humorous. The camera sticks to horizontal pans and close-ups and sudden cuts all shot in flat light. Ami Subhash Bolchhi is a poor show by Mahesh Manjrekar and though Mithun is quite himself, he does not seem overly involved in either the film or in his role. Sorry, but this Bengali critic felt prouder being a Bengali before having watched this film!