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Bob Biswas movie review: Abhishek Bachchan-led Kahaani spin-off is a routine action thriller

Updated on Dec 03, 2021 02:54 PM IST
Bob Biswas movie review: Despite a strong supporting cast, Abhishek Bachchan's new thriller is just a good-enough watch.
Bob Biswas movie review: Abhishek Bachchan plays the titular character.
By Devarsi Ghosh

Diya Annapurna Ghosh’s Bob Biswas raises an interesting question that it doesn’t answer. Someone who loses their memory and regains it might remember their family, friends, and colleagues. They might even return to old habits. But can they find their personality back? Can their sense of right and wrong, good and bad stay intact?

Or will a person’s ethics and values take a total U-turn? Diya Annapurna Ghosh’s directorial debut says yes, which is just one of the film’s several elements that beggars belief.

Watch Bos Biswas trailer:

The Zee5 release is a spin-off of the 2012 thriller Kahaani, written and directed by Diya Annapurna Ghosh’s father Sujoy Ghosh. In Kahaani, Bob Biswas (an excellent Saswata Chatterjee) was seen in a supporting role as a timid insurance agent who moonlights as a contract killer. When the heroine, memorably played by Vidya Balan, becomes of one of his targets, Bob gets his just desserts.

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Diya Annapurna Ghosh’s film begins with Bob (Abhishek Bachchan) waking up from an eight-year coma, without any memory of his past life. He is informed he has a wife (Chitrangada Singh) and two kids (Samara Tijori, Ronith Arora), and he used to be a life insurance salesman. Bob tries to live a normal life, but his ex-secret employers put him back to contract-killing work.

Paran Bandyopadhyay is one of the film's highlights.

Bob rediscovers his spark as a hitman. How to assemble a gun and use it is locked as muscle memory. But Bob 2.0, it seems, has discovered a conscience. He starts worrying if his target is a good or a bad person. He asks a pastor: should I do this for a living? Or was I made for this?

I hoped the film would take an existential turn at this point. But Bob Biswas quickly devolves into a routine action thriller where the hero’s job is to just kill the bad guys. If we have to see such a film about an assassin, we can catch any of the John Wick movies again on any streaming platform. Why put Bob Biswas in a similar set-up?

Here, you have this portly, balding, timid Bengali guy, who’s also a super-successful hitman. But then he has lost his memory. That’s a million-dollar idea. But Diya Annapurna Ghosh’s Bob Biswas, despite showing promise in the first half, becomes a bore. The character simply has no evolution.

At some point, Bachchan’s Bob tells us, oh, it’s bad to kill people, I suppose, it’s time to reconsider my life choices. But it stays as something Bob just says. We don’t see him grow. It is hard to say if it is a problem of Sujoy Ghosh's screenplay or the actor. Abhishek Bachchan tries, but he is not one to mine gold out of a mediocre character.

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Many elements of Kahaani that made it so good, return in Bob Biswas. A few work. We get two amazing characters: an interesting rival hitman, and a most unlikely banker-cum-gunrunner for assassins. The supporting cast is all-round solid, especially, Paran Bandyopadhyay and Pavbitra Rabha. The film is lovingly shot by Gairik Sarkar. The dialogue by Sujoy Ghosh and Raj Vasant has some fun bits.

Bob Biswas ends with an absolutely unnecessary reference to Kahaani. After two hours, we never get the answers to what made the original Bob Biswas so compelling: who is he? How did he become a killer? What’s he like when he’s alone? By snatching away Bob’s memory, and leaving him a shell of a person, the Ghoshes sidestep the task of turning him into a flesh-and-blood person. As a result, the film Bob Biswas neither emerges as a character study nor does it embrace the opportunity to become zany comic-book pulp, which it had every chance to be.

Bob BiswasDirector: Diya Annapurna GhoshCast: Abhishek Bachchan, Chitrangada Singh

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