If you are a film lover and love the nuances of film-making, then BANDOOK is definitely a creative treat; both visually as well as content-wise. Visually, because it gives you a real-life feel of the rustic settings of Uttar Pradesh where the film is set and also because the camera used is 'Viper' with Canon DSLR for capturing montages and unrehearsed moments. This information about the camera I found out after doing a bit of research as I was intrigued by the 'feel of the film'. The reason I learnt was to cut production cost.
And this has worked greatly in favour of the film because BANDOOK is dark and grim. Yet, in a strange way it is also attractive. Attractive because director Aditya Om (who also plays the lead, Bhola Kevat) narrates in a style which is brave for someone venturing first time into Bollywood. But Aditya is no stranger to cinema per say; he has been active in the south.
The story is about power and politics. It's about a festival that comes once in five years - Chunav (elections). Chunav hi raakshash ko devta banata hai aur deta hai unko sabsi badi taaqat (Elections turn a demon into a god and gives him this ultimate power) goes a line in the film. This sums up the film in totality. But the preparation for this festival always begins five years in advance and goes on till Election Day.
BANDOOK looks closely at the marriage of crime and politics. It portrays how a gun is the one device that is closely linked between the two and how ordinary people with extraordinary dreams are used and abused by the powerful politicians for their own gain. It shows the rise of an ordinary boy (who is the illegitimate son of a powerful politician), who joins hands with a rival politician to get even with life. Aditya also weaves in a love angle so subtly that it stands out like a story on its own. A love story where no words are exchanged but only body language displayed.
Aditya Om as the protagonist Bhola Kevat is this simple young man who wants to do something different, but when he gets a chance to pull the trigger, he quivers and runs away. He is offered a second chance by his mentor Lochan Singh (Arshad Khan) and from there is no looking back as he wins the favour of the politician in power, Hari Om Tripathi (Ashish Kotwaal).
The characterization of every artiste is perfect and so is the casting. Arshad and Aditya are brilliant, so are the other characters and even the ones who come for a brief moment on screen. Kajri (Manisha Kelkar) who is sold twice and rescued by Bhola in one of his 'encounters' emotes with just her eyes. Bhola's confession to her that he is a killer and does not want to add kidnapping and rape to his bio-data is a line delivered with all sincerity, which sinks deep into her heart.
My only grouse is that the movie is 30 minutes too long. Also the beginning, which details Bhola's humiliation, was not necessary. It could have been depicted in a better manner. And even if that were so, why did Bhola not go after those boys who stoned him?
But for this flaw, the movie is an experience. It's a Prakash Jha type of cinema with all the trappings of power and politics and ambition but without the gloss.
The acting by everyone is an education in itself. Every aspiring actor should watch this film at least once.