Bioscopewala Review

Minnie (Geetanjali Thapa) has to fly down to Kolkata from Paris because her father Robi Basu (Adil Hussain, in a short sweet role), is feared dead in a plane crash. The plane was flying to Kabul and the family retainer Bhola (played wonderfully as always by Brijendra Kala) brings her back home from the airport. She's hot and irritated and does not like that the airlines does not know what and whys of the plane's disappearance. Minnie comes across as all-curly hair and pretty face and self absorbed because she has to deal with this 'nonsense'. She is shown at first to ignore her father's call (father sits down at the airport and writes a letter to her! Of course they haven't heard of emails!). Of course she tells the boyfriend she's irritated by it all. Her father has been stern to her and she gets flashbacks of going into the photo studio and being scolded...


Now she has to deal with the police, the airlines and even unscrupulous lawyers who want to cash in on the tragedy. The cops are there to drop off an old man in their house. Apparently the father had fought for the custody of the old man for years and years. Brijendra Kala too is unable to say who the old man Rehmat Khan is. Because Minnie is too self absorbed to find out who and why the old man was a subject of her father's fascination. She just wants the old man out.


Danny Denzongpa plays the old man Rehmat Khan. He suffers from Alzheimer's and the way Minnie treats someone she doesn't know, makes you want to slap her hard. Danny is a gem. He emotes so well and carries the past on his shoulders magnificently. The flashbacks show us how amazing an actor he is. He's pining away for his daughter who is the same age as Minnie, and despite all these years in prison, she is still the child he has left behind and so is Minnie.


Minnie gets her father's belongings and conducts the last rites. Very reluctantly. She even tells people who have gathered home that she is not connected for years with her dad. What we want to know is why she has not opened her dad's belongings collected from the airlines' office?


There are a lot of annoying things like that in the movie. If she doesn't want to deal with Rehmat Khan, she could easily drop him off at some old folks home or some hospice. Why is she looking for people who knew him? Brijendra Kala could have told her the man was her childhood Bioscopewala! The poor retainer takes her all over the place while she is trying to ascertain if Rehmat Khan is innocent or no. That brings in Tisca Chopra and sundry other people who talk about Rehmat Khan. After what seems like a dumb pointless trip to Kabul (where she finds amid the rubble of Rehmat Khan's village the signboard of the cinema he ran until the Taliban took over! At this point you want to throw something at the screen because you have suspended your disbelief too much). She's so self-absorbed, even when the boyfriend shows up in Kabul, she doesn't even hug him!


Thankfully for one lucid moment Danny makes you forget the stupidities of Minnie. And the credits roll. You come away wondering how they took a wonderful story and spat out a stupid version. Bring Balraj Sahni's Kabuliwala (Bimal Roy directs!) back, I say!

Based on a wonderful story 'Kabuliwala' by Rabindranath Tagore, this story turns a dry-fruit vendor into a Bioscopewala, and Minnie and her dad into this modern dysfunctional family. It is not just a stretch but the whole film is about Minnie rediscovering 'facts' that everyone and their popcorn in the audience has already guessed. You want to slap Minnie many times, but Danny as Bioscopewala wins your hearts... (1.5) - Manisha Lakhe

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