After a little more than two hours of callow wild goose chase in the seedy alleys and allegories of Kolkata, Dhaka, Bangkok, Pune and Mumbai; Buno Haansh limps like its fabled protagonist Dev, away from the viewers sans direction. The film carries the strains of desperation for commercial success loud and clear throughout its stretched perimeter.
The failed text of the film can be (mis)read at two levels: guttural and metaphorical. The oddity in Buno Haansh is the characters, so off kilter are these specimens from the real that they lend a particular seriocomic tone to the film which is in complete discordance with the gritty urban space and time portrayed in it. These strange characters are jaded offspring of popular Bengali fiction laced with hammed mannerisms. The character of Sohag (Srabanti), the film’s docile hero Amal’s (Dev) love interest is a reincarnation of Saratchandra Chetterjee’s archetypal grief stricken heroine. As Amal descends through the perilous spiral of ‘greed, lust and crime’, the people he meets and befriends are all caricatures of dons, thugs, sidekicks and damsels which the collective imagination of our television soaps and Bollywood underworld capers have regurgitated ad nauseam. The lone bright spark in this undistinguished filth is Amal’s sister in law, played with such aplomb by Sudipta Chakraborty (in a role quite similar to her national award winning performance in Rituparno Ghosh’s Bariwali), that the character and her story linger on like a bitter sweet taste in the mouth long after the film has retreated to your memory’s oblivion.
Buno Haansh is metaphoric of Bengali cinema in intensive care unit, where the support staffs (read technicians) are trying desperately to resuscitate the patient while the doctor (read director) is making out with the nurse (read screenwriter). The film suffers most due to the abysmal screenplay where plot turns are constructed on childlike naivety and wafer thin imagination. The cheap thrills of the climax scene shot in Mumbai, presumably guest directed by Shoojit Sircar for his panache in ‘designing action sequence’ is frankly worse than playing temple run for the umpteenth time on your smartphone. The above average show put up by the vanguards of visuals is not enough to compensate for no direction at all. Directing urban pulp noir is an art that needs to be learned from the masters of the craft, the likes of Robert Aldrich to Jacques Audiard and cannot be attempted feebly. The ingredients were all there in Buno Haansh, a corrupt society where the protagonist is more of a sufferer than a hero, a femme fatale luring him into crime, the crime being presented as a cunning exploit, a supreme sense of fatalism as plans go awry; and yet the dish is served nearly raw. But then…what’s good for the goose is possibly not good for the gander.
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