About a week after Vidya Balan-starrer Kahaani released to glowing reviews and impressive box-office numbers, a group of film bloggers met director Sujoy Ghosh to discuss the film.
They ended up talking not so much about the lead character, Vidya Bagchi, as about Bob Biswas, the balding, pot-bellied insurance agent who moonlights as a cold-blooded contract killer.
“The character of Bob Biswas fascinated us because of how atypical it was,” says Somen Mishra, a film journalist who writes under the name CilemaSnob on his blog, F.I.G.H.T C.L.U.B “Usually, Hindi cinema has two types of killers: the suave, sophisticated contract killers and the gangster-tapori variety. Both are extremely unrealistic.”
Kahaani’s Bob Biswas, on the other hand, does not dress stylishly or carry impressive weapons. In his day job, he is routinely rebuked by his boss for failing to meet his sales targets. In a scene where he attempts to escape from the police, he is shown panting for breath after a few paces because of his abysmal stamina. Ek minit
Bob doesn’t even have much dialogue. One of his very few lines is the ominous ‘Nomoshkar, aami Bob Biswas. Ek minute?’, following which he pulls a pistol out of a black sling bag and shoots his target.
These very quirks, however, seem to have helped make Bob Biswas a pop-cultural icon. In addition to a fan-built Facebook page with 25,100 ‘Likes’, Ghosh has been flooded, particularly on Twitter, with fan art and enthusiastic requests for a spin-off or graphic novel.