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Review: Bow Barracks Forever

Although Anjan Dutt's movie scores some points on cinematography and acting too, it lacks on the compassion and cool that are required of a director in dealing with an intricate theme, writes Khalid Mohamed.

movie reviews Updated: Jul 28, 2007 19:20 IST
Khalid Mohamed
Khalid Mohamed
Hindustan Times

Bow Barracks Forever
Cast: Lilette Dubey, Moon Moon Sen, Victor Banerjee, Arindam Sil, Roopa Ganguly, Neha Dubey
Direction: Anjan Dutt
Rating: ** & 1/2 (2 1/2)

Beep beep, here's quite a peep show.

Heavens, a sweet, silver-haired grandpa removes his vest, displays a bare chest and tells his sizzler wife, Ms Moon Moon Sen, the funniest piece of dialogue heard this side of the Howrah: "I may not have much... but you're welcome to all l've got."

Now, was he talking about his fixed deposit account? His matchbox collection? Or? Never you mind. To be absolutely fair, Anjan Dutt's Bow Barracks Forever does tackle a singularly incisive theme revolving around a neglected district of Kolkata.

<b1>A community of Anglo-Indians is getting the hell out of there or are into sordid sex, booze-ups and petty crime. Sounds familiar? Yes, the story could well be located in any big town with its fast-vanishing heritage structures and minority ghettoes. Superb, great, clap, clap!

The cinematography is wonderfully evocative, vivifying the rust-red walls of the crumbling homes and creeping up to the warts and blemishes of the Barracks bozos.

Lilette Dubey, as a Mother Earth who dreams of joining her son in London some day, belts out an excellent performance of grace under pressure. More claps. Alas, that's where the positive points end.

Quite often the director's technique makes your toes curl especially the inter-cutting shots between the characters who're multiplying faster than mad bunnies.

Indeed, the cuts between the world's thinnest young man in a tomato-red sweater and a rather glassy-eyed moppet playing a game of hide-andseek, prompt you to hide under your seat - and stay there.

Despair: In fact, a tome could be written on the assortment of nuterackers here.

Suffice it to introduce you to just three (out of 300) of them, starting with the very patient Ms Dubey She makes wine, bakes cakes and keeps the kitchen alit.

Oh oh, meanwhile her toothpick-thin son has this big sex-vex thing going with a battered housewife who's having the worst bad-hair day since Miss Medusa of yore. Anyway, our nice cake lady often goes:

"What men,

kiddar ko jaato

men, so stewpid every ding is men."

Man, I tell you. Moon Moon Sen, flaunting blouses that leave everything to the imagination, wants more sex. But her husband goes off to school at noon (wait he isn't a student, but a teacher).

That's when a huge naked man, in sky-blue shorts, walks with paunch exposed before Lady Sen. And us! By the way, Moon Moonji also moans: "What men, what is life men, I hate it here... I hate it, Ihate it men."

By now, you're likely to echo her sentiments. Okay then there's Victor Bannerjee looking like Pablo Picasso no less (dig that beret). He's actually Peter the Cheater and is always drinking, never thinking.

And suddenly, he breaks into a one-man jazz concert. Aha, this dude prefers sax to sex. And he also goes: "What men? Where you going men?" HOME... you want to scream out loud, only to be prevented by the sudden appearance by Usha Uthup who sings an X 'mas number Slumber Honestly, there was a probe-worthy idea here. Snag.

As in The Bong Connection, director Dutt is self-indulgent to the point of being infilriating. One needs compassion and a certain cool to deal with such an intricate theme - and certainly not young, middleaged and old folks sauntering about in their undergarments.

Ewww. A pop band even plays a cover version of Beatles' I saw her standing there. They might as well have sung Moon Moon ke na dekh Moon Moon ke.

First Published: Jul 28, 2007 18:07 IST