Bhonsle movie review: Manoj Bajpayee incredible brilliance powers this sombering ‘state’ of affairs

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Bhonsle movie review is here. Written and directed by Devashish Makhija. Bhonsle stars Manoj Bajpayee, who is also the co-producer. Premiered at the ‘A Window on Asian Cinema’ section of the 2018 Busan International Film Festival and also screened in the non-competitive India Story section at the MAMI Film Festival, the 2018 Dharamshala International Film Festival, the 2019 International Film Festival Rotterdam, the Bengaluru International Film Festival and the Singapore South Asian film festival. The award-winning movie Bhonsle (Best Screenplay and Best Director at the Asian Film Festival Barcelona) is released on Sony LIV on 26 June 2020.

Immediate reaction when the end credits
The silent hero Bhonsle (Manoj Bajpayee) makes that essential noise on the ‘state’ of our affairs which we cannot ignore.

The story of Bhonsle
Ganpath Bhonsle (Manoj Bajpayee) a Marathi constable on the brink of retirement, wants to renew his contract but is asked to wait as Ganpati festival is round the corner. Ganpath Bhonsle is a man living in isolation, zero social interactions with just an old radio for company in his age-old room in that age-old Churchill chawl. Bhonsle despite getting respect from his fellow residents of the chawl due to his job in police, prefers to stay in his shell and only speaks when spoken too. A series of incident leads to a situation where Bhonsle finds himself in a feud between Villas (Santosh Juvekar), a Marathi “gang leader,” and the Bihari boy Lalu (Virat Vaibhav) who has recently arrived as Bhonsle’s neighbour along with his sister Sita (Ipshita Chakraborty Singh).

Bhonsle movie review

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After the terrific Ajji, Devashish Makhija brings another mind-blowing piece of art and creates unusual heroes. From old granny in Ajji to a quiet lonely police constable in Bhonsle, Devashish Makhija’s supreme command in establishing simple characters with a unique arc that slowly and gradually grows and finds purpose is amazing.

When you have actor like Manoj Bajpayee who can never go wrong, here it gets magical.

Manoj Bajpayee as Bhonsle is something aspiring actors should observe to better their craft / nuances. Right from the first frame which juxtaposes with the Ganpati celebration to the final act that juxtaposes with the visarjan of Lord Ganesha, Manoj Bajpayee displays his mastery and powers this essential and one of most important and honest movies coming in recent years.

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The routines of Bhonsle – having tea, eating the same bhakri, batata ka bhaji usual, washing the same utensils, same two sets of clothes may be painstaking for some as it gets repeated. Within this unexciting routine, the writer director shows a dream sequence that has Bajpayee doing the same routine, but he is now more aged. Such nuances in filmmaking is rare – at this point many may think that its better if this character dies and then the graph changes.

Slowly the movie comments on immigrants, exploitation, the linguistic divide, the good, the evil, the hypocrisy, anger, hate, fate, faith, humanity, courage, fear and more.

Bhonsle is the protagonist, the observer, the meta at times and the audience as well.

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Like Ajji, Makhija’s brilliance in making his characters and audience react as per his choice and demand is terrifically thrilling and amazingly this is achieved through simple, routine sequences coming from everyday life.

The crowd scene stands apart and the chaos within the central characters during that masterly shot Ganpati visarjan scene is pure gold.

Manoj Bajpayee as said earlier is class apart. His dialogue delivery, body language, mannerisms, etc. is just flawless.

Santosh Juvekar as Villas is outstanding, he is successful in infusing hate in the minds of the audience.

Other strong support comes from Ipshita Chakraborty Singh as Sita she excels during the final reels. Virat Vaibhav as Lalu is fabulous. Abhishek Banerjee as Rajendra leaves his mark.

Jigmet Wangchuk’s cinematography is that character that makes all the other characters right from the protagonist to that crow completely believable and relatable. Creating a claustrophobic atmosphere Jigmet Wangchuk’s camera works as a mirror and not just a frame.

Shweta Venkat’s editing is purposely laid back.

Final words
Bhonsle starring Manoj Bajpayee is not just a movie, it is a mirror which asks for a change. Directed by Devashish Makhija Bhonsle is one of the most honest and powerful movies to come in recent times.

pic/poster courtesy: Sony Liv

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