Reviews

'Bangistan': No country for sane men

A still from 'Bangistan'

A still from 'Bangistan'  

Film critic-turned director Karan Anshuman’s Bangistan isn’t the film you want too many filmmakers to watch. You can imagine a hundred directors stepping out of the theatre after watching it saying ‘So you thought making films was simple’ remembering the faces of every film critic that hurt them in the past. To be fair , Bangistan’s isn’t the easiest concept to handle. Not only should every joke crackle in its satirical set-up, but the film’s serious geopolitical back stories must also connect to an audience for the film to work. Sadly, the film fails on both counts.

It is about two wannabe terrorists (a Muslim dressed like a Hindu and a Hindu dressed like a Muslim) hailing from opposing factions from a fictional country called Bangistan, who’re sent on a suicide mission to bomb a religious conference in Krakow, Poland. It’s a plot that’s ripe with possibilities, and certain moments display how well the material could have worked, if it had been executed more ably.

Take the scenes where the two terrorists try to procure their bombs for instance. Upon reaching Poland, Hafeez (Riteish Deshmukh) dressed as a Hindu, approaches the Russians (of all people) for explosives. Naturally, if the Hindus go to the Russians, Praveen Chaturvedi (Pulkit Samrat), in his Muslim avatar, heads to the Chinese.

For humour, the director also peppers the film with several references from world cinema. There’s a character named Citizen Hussain, an angry Polish man called Polanski, a cop who says he is Wai Kar Wong (a nod to director Wong Kar Wai) and an indulgent parody of Robert De Niro’s ‘You talking to me’ scene from Taxi Driver.

When the makers are not referencing world cinema, they resort to puns for comedy. So Hafeez and Praveen drink at a Polish club called ‘Bull and Bore’ (read beef and pork), they gorge on burgers from FcDonalds and there’s even a Muslim version of the iconic ‘I want you’ poster to recruit aspiring terrorists in the film.

It’s evident how funny these jokes might have seemed on paper, but sadly it has not translated well on to the screen. The film, however, is most disappointing when it takes a sudden tonal shift from a silly satire to a preachy appeal for world peace. Shot almost entirely in Poland, Bangistan even begins to feel suspiciously like a ‘Visit Poland’ commercial, like the one shown in the beginning of the film.

Talking about the visuals, the director may love his symmetry, vividly colourful frames and an excessive use of tracking shots, but he’s no Wes Anderson. In their attempt to solve all of world's problems through a lazily made film, the makers have instead stumbled upon the cure for a more solvable issue - insomnia.



Bangistan

Genre: Satire

Cast: Riteish Deshmukh, Pulkit Samrat, Jacqueline Fernandez

Director: Karan Anshuman

Storyline: A Hindu dressed as a Muslim and a Muslim dressed as a Hindu go to Poland to bomb a religious conference

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Printable version | Sep 22, 2020 8:44:49 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/cinema-reviews/bangistan-review/article7516311.ece

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