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'Bangistan' review: A low-impact blast!

'Bangistan' review: A low-impact blast!

Source: Sify

By: Sonia Chopra

Friday 7 August 2015

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Movie Title

Bangistan

Director

Karan Anshuman

Star Cast

Jacqueline Fernandez, Riteish Deshmukh, Pulkit Samrat

The fun title belies what lies ahead. Bangistan, by the way, refers to a violence-ridden fictional land where the Hindu and Muslim fractions live in opposite districts.

We're introduced to our two simpleton characters--Hafiz Bin Ali (Riteish Deshmukh) and Praveen Chaturvedi (Pulkit Samrat) — both blindly influenced by fanatic leaders.

The Muslim and Hindu leaders (both played by Kumud Mishra) have trained their respective men to turn into suicide bombers. The occasion? A 'World Religious Conference' in Poland, with religious leaders will be coming together to spread the message of tolerance and peace. The aim is to destroy the conference, and therefore, the progressive idea it represents.

Now, Hafiz, a former call-centre worker and Praveen who dreams of becoming a famous actor, have to disguise themselves for the mission. So Hafiz decides to go to Poland disguised as a Hindu and Praveen...well, you get the drift.

In doing so, they not only change their outward appearance but also read but all possible literature there is on the other religion. In one telling scene, when Hafiz is reading the Gita and Praveen the Quran, both read aloud the texts' message of peace and love.

As Bollywood coincidences go, the two land up staying in the same place in Poland and their covert identities throw up several situations for comedy.

Sadly, these situations are barely exploited. For a film that's clearly trying to propagate a message through humour, the jokes fall flat. Spoofing names (Wai Kar-Wong, FcDonalds) and home-shopping ads is not terribly innovative. Neither is naming a political party 'Maa Ka Dal', and making a juvenile joke around one's choice of milk (I drink mother's milk, oops no, cow's milk). Situations like a character saying 'Do me right now' to a security guard meaning to say he's open to being frisked, or another dialogue around 'blow you up' make for more dull, predictable comedy. These unfunny episodes are punctuated by a very busy, often incongruous background score.

Debut director Karan Anshuman's storytelling displays conviction but falters in the implementation of the well-intentioned ideas. The film has you involved in bits, like the time where the mistaken identities go a level deeper, and you cannot help but chuckle. But this fun portion is brief, while the parts where you find your attention drifting are much longer. And the surprisingly preachy tone of the finale is, indeed, the film's undoing.

Also surprising is this contemporary film (it shouldn't even attempt the Bechdel Test), leaves out women completely even in the peripheral character categories, save the thankless 'hot waitress' role handed over to Jacqueline Fernandez.

Riteish Deshmukh and Pulkit Samrat's performances elevate the film to a large extent, and two actors share a serviceable chemistry.

The other bright spots in the film include the scene where Hafiz and Praveen, in a war of words, unwittingly side with the other's religion. Clever situations like a religious fanatic sipping on diet cola while whining, 'What has America given us'? And the scene where a goat becomes the symbol of unnecessary violence, that must be saved at any cost. Poland is beautifully captured and Ram Sampath gives us some hummable songs.

Bangistan attempts to tell a well-intentioned message through humour, and in the end, both are lost on the viewer. The film, based on our novice bombers, is sadly low-impact!