Bangistan review: It's all about sin, satire and salvation

  • Rohit Vats, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Aug 09, 2015 12:41 IST

Film: Bangistan
Cast: Riteish Deshmukh, Pulkit Samrat, Jacqueline Fernandez
Director: Karan Anshuman
Rating: 3/5

When a former film critic sets out to make his first film, he is expected to, among other things, weave an intriguing theme around the plot. Bangistan, director Karan Anshuman's debut film, delivers on this front very ably: It is about two forever-quarelling neighbouring countries, South and North Bangistan! Why this 'intriguing' name? Because the two protagonists become suicide bombers later in the film. But that doesn't justify the title, right?

While you are at it, here's what Bangistan is about. Praveen Chaturvedi (Pulkit Samrat) dreams of making it big as an actor one day, but knows it is a tough ask because he fails to get noticed even at the local Ramleela. He also hates Muslims, and soon finds himself being manipulated by a Hindu mobster Guru Ji (Kumud Mishra) who holds a key position in the powerful sectarian political outfit Maa Ka Dal. Harold aka Hafiz Bin Ali (Riteish Deshmukh), somewhere else, is a potential ‘jihadi’ who has been chosen by the local chief (Again Kumud Mishra) of Al-Kaam Tamaam for a covert mission in Poland.

Hafiz and Praveen are two potential suicide bombers.

As it happens in Bollywood films, the two find themselves in Krakow, Poland, where religious leaders from all over the world have gathered to work out a foolproof plan for global peace. Needless to say, all the drama in the film takes place here, where the director keeps trying to finish Bangistan with a thumping resolution, only to be pulled back by the actors at crucial junctures.

Bangistan review |

Riteish-Pulkit starrer deserves an applause for its message-oriented content

The good things first. The premise on which Bangistan rests is very interesting as it brings out the differences between religious prejudices and intolerances without being overtly preachy. In one scene, we have Praveen, a proud Hindu who does everything possible to look the younger version of Salman Khan, tastes meat accidentally and likes it very much. Similarly, Hafiz gets drunk one day in the excitement of meeting Rosanna (Jacqueline Fernandez), but says it was the best day of his life. Though it seems like a stereotyped notion of being cool that the Hindi film industry has been propagating since long that liquor and free-spirited young women are the necessary thrusts to salvation. Anyway, the idea is accepted that the ultimate goal of life is to achieve heaven on the earth only.

Bangistan is also about a lot of 'innovative' things along the way. Like that of naming and referring to some master filmmakers and their immortal creations. For example, Tamim Hussain (Chandan Roy Sanyal), a Bangladeshi in Poland, addresses himself in the third person as Citizen Hussain. A cop is referred to as Wong Kar-wai, and Praveen talks to himself in the mirror a la Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver. So, here’s a protagonist trying his best to emphasise the fact that he is a ‘hero’, giving tribute to one of the masters of the game without acknowledging the fact that De Niro was nothing else but a ‘common man’ in his action and pursuit.

Chandan Roy Sanyal (middle) also plays an important role in Bangistan.

Riteish Deshmukh is much more believable in comparison. He has evolved a lot over the years and that reflects in his body of work. His subdued performance and understanding of the satire makes his character a lovable one. His awkwardness, paradoxical choices in life and simmering anger present him as a capable actor.

Karan Anshuman rolls his game plan and then introduces his primary characters one by one. It is a good tactic for a linear film, but somewhere along the way he gets confused and starts off to make Bangistan a 'balanced’ film. He puts Star*ucks, Nav Kamal Times and a Mullah gorging on FcDonalds, diet drinks on display in the beginning enticing his audience to expect a really edgy political satire. But then he decides to play to the gallery and that immediately changes the texture of the story.

None of this, however, takes anything away from the great plot poins of Bangistan. Their instinctive support for their original religions makes both Hafiz and Praveen so realistic. In one scene inside an airport, both want to pass through a tough security check only because they want the other to do the same.

Bangistan is Karan Anshuman's debut directorial venture.

Puneet Krishna’s lyrics catch our attention in the background song ‘Hogi kranti chaaro or’ especially when we see two men struggling to establish their identities. Smart one-liners also come to the director’s rescue. Consider this conversation:

Praveen (Changed name: Allah Rakha Khan): Arre naam me kya rakha hai?
Hafiz (Changed name: Ishwarchand Sharma): Inke toh naam me hi Allah Rakha hai.

Another one:

Praveen: Musalman hoga tera baap.
Hafiz: Haan wo toh hai hi, pura khandaan hi hai.

Or, this one:

Praveen in a philosophical tone: Bujha dijiyega halogen, humara Filmfare toh humko mil hi chukka hoga.

As if the director is mocking the mainstream Bollywood filmmaking.

Watch: Bangistan Trailer

Bangistan races through with a nice tempo, only to be brought to an abrupt halt with its highly predictable, and 'heroic’ (read Bollywood-ised) climax. Still, it’s left with a lot of watchable and well thought-out moments. Bangistan deserves applause for its message-oriented content.

(Interact with Rohit Vats at Twitter/ @nawabjha)

Read: Riteish Deshmukh's Bangistan banned in Pakistan, UAE

Read other film reviews here

also read

Ae Dil Hai Mushkil review: Been there, seen that
Show comments