Once the Censor Board has done its job, you either stay seated or you just walk out. As far as Bandook is concerned, the choice plays against you for two reasons. One, you don’t get to watch such movies often. Two, you may not want to watch such movies often. It’s sincere but too taxing.
The very nature of Aditya Om’s directorial venture — in which he’s playing the lead role — is realistic to begin with. In fact, way too realistic for mainstream cinema. The film kickstarts with a guy getting almost crucified and ends with the resurrected version of the same person. The journey he takes between these two extreme ends sums up the travails of someone from UP who might be illiterate but understands power. And he’ll do anything — least of all, pick up a gun — to get where he wants to. Love and loyalty are just byproducts of his means.
Despite the overwhelming shadow of keeping-it-real that spreads across the frame, the story lacks punch.
Some of the actions our protagonist commits are questionable, if not witless. The dialogues are funny for the most part but their nuances are lost on those who don’t understand the spoken dialect. Songs are hummable while cinematography is hugely relegated. Besides, the editor should have chopped (and stopped) the film from turning into a vain epic.
Aditya does a decent job both in front as well as back of camera. Fortunately, he doesn’t ham and has a clear-cut sense of his character’s graph. Arshad Khan who plays his mentor in the film is noticed for his winning act. Though Manisha Kelkar doesn’t have a single dialogue, she emotes quite well.
Lastly, if you want to have to take a look at how election (dys)functions in the Hindi heartland and how might flows from the barrel, this action drama shall be a ride to remember. Sadly, it’s going to be a long drive.