ILAKSHEE NATH narrates the PVR experience of Jahnu Barua’s Baandhon in Delhi
Pretty much excited about the prospective of watching an Assamese movie in a PVR in Delhi, and a Jahnu Barua movie at that, had me dragging my two reluctant girls on a Sunday afternoon. We had a bad experience on an earlier occasion. I am no movie critic. But as a part of the audience, I know a good one from a bad one. The smses kept coming from Assam Association Delhi about the screening of this film.
And so we were ensconced in the seats waiting for the credits to roll. I went with a clean slate – no Google search for reviews, opinions or story. The opening scene with the old bickering couple had us in light laughs. And as the movie progressed, the laughter kept coming on. The selective amnesia of the old squabbling couple on the brink of divorce, after 73 years of togetherness and most of it conjugal; the petty reasons for their seeking separation – of snoring in sleep or not abiding by the set rule of, who- sleeps- early-gets- to -snore.
The tickles kept coming turning into guffaws at many places. But what made the movie endearing was the exploration of bonding or relations at various levels. The bond of warmth and cold between the old couple; the surrogate bond between the owner and the one time tenant; the bond of loyalty between the servant and the master; all these relations have grown over a period of time and become stronger. However the bond between the orphaned grandson and the grandparents is what provides the dramatic conflict in the movie. A conflict, which is inflicted by external circumstances beyond control. It is against this conflict that the biggest bond of all emerges – the bond between common man and faith, of common man and life.
Set in a city in Assam, the plot starts with the on – off divorce saga of the old couple. They reach a lawyer, their one time tenant, to take up the case. The lawyer, lending a patient ear, is sure that he can have the two together within twenty four hours without their knowledge. However he advices them to live separately to make their case stronger for divorce. As in the past, he tries to rekindle their feelings by stoking their romance that started in their childhood. The news of their fight reaches their grandson studying in IIT Mumbai. While trying to explain his side of the story the call gets disconnected and the grandfather is left helpless. His various attempts to reach his grandson leaves him frustrated. Then the mayhem of the Mumbai terrorist attack of 26/11 acts as the catalyst to carry the story forward. Blissfully unaware of the carnage the old couple patch up and wait for their grandson. And finally when the news trickles down to them, they wake up to a world beyond theirs. It is this wait for news of their grandson that keeps one on their seats’ edge.
A movie that begins with a funny bone, has everyone leaving the hall somber and poignant. The initial laughter gives way to silence and the sniffs. And the sniffs come on with the towering performance of Bishnu Kharghoria. Consistent throughout the movie with restrained performance, Bishnu Kharghoria has proved himself once again ( not that he needed any) as one of the finest actors in this country. He played the squabbling old man with dignity without being reduced to a caricature, moving on to a concerned grandfather and a bent but undefeated man – taking on stoically all that life has to offer. He deserved every bit of that Jury’s Special Award For Best Acting. The rest of the cast did a decent job. Jatin Bora was a little theatrical though and Bina Patangia showed the sparks at places. But it was the director Jahnu Barua with his tight script, direction and Bishnu Kharghoria all the way to the finishing line.
As an Assamese living outside Assam, I am glad I could introduce my children to good Assamese movie in the comforts of PVR ambience and say, “We make good movies as well.”