27 May 2018

Bioscopewala: A Beautiful, Contemporary Tagore Adaptation

Bioscopewala has characters from Kabuliwala, the much-loved 1892 Rabindranath Tagore short story. What the filmmakers admirably do is craft new layers to the classic Tagore tale of pure companionship. In adding these layers, they both enrich and rob the film of the original story's magic. But more on that later.

The Bioscopewala Story 
France-based documentary filmmaker Minnie (Geetanjali Thapa, competent) returns home to Kolkata abruptly. Minnie's father, the famous fashion photographer Robi Basu (Adil Hussain, brief pivotal role) has died in a plane crash, on the way to Afghanistan.

While Minnie is wondering why her father was traveling to the war-torn country, her father's faithful aide Bhola (Brijendra Kala, stand out act) brings home a mysterious old and ailing man (Danny Denzongpa, amazing as usual, underutilized).

An already shaken up Minnie is at first irritated and alarmed at the old man's presence. She gradually remembers that the old man is none other than Rehmat Khan, "the Bioscope man", her dear friend from her long-forgotten childhood. Full of memories and curious, Minnie decides to investigate further.

A Thrilling Suspense Drama with Heart 
At intermission, I was disappointed to see little of the unique friendship that the little girl and Rehmat Khan (the title character) share in the short story. The father-daughter tangle required more exploration.

But things fall together like a fascinating jigsaw puzzle in the second half.

Minnie gradually discovers the man Rehmat Khan is through his old notorious neighbour, two Afghani women, and her father's files. She pieces together facts and rediscovers her past and Rehmat Khan in a new light.

A film that aches with genuine feeling, nostalgia, melancholy, deep human emotions and the balm of cinema. I left the theater with a deeply-affected heart.

Bioscopewala is a Beautiful Adaptation 
Stunning in parts, insightful and subtle in conveying emotions, holding its own as a topical drama, Bioscopewala is a gem of a movie. The filmmakers have courageously reinterpreted a classic tale for a contemporary audience.

Applause for the writers (Deb Medhekar & Sunil Doshi), screenplay writers (Doshi & Radhika Anand), director (Deb Medhekar), and the cast.

A big thumbs up also to the sole title song Bioscopewala, charmingly written by Gulzar, marking the return of Sandesh Shandilya (Socha Na Tha, Kabhie Khushi Kabhi Gham)  and beautifully sung by K Mohan.

Cinema lovers, don't miss Bioscopewala at the theaters this week.

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