Saturday, August 08, 2015


Damp Squib

The idea comes from the simple sermons everyone gets at school—all religions are one, etc. To satirize the stupidity (and tragedy) inflicted on the world in the name of religion, needed the lunacy of a Sacha Baron Cohen. Karan Anshuman’s Bangistan barely touches the silliness of Dumb and Dumber, which seems to be its basic source of inspiration.

Bangistan is a fictitious place divided into two—once side Muslim, the other Hindu (similarity to Pakistan and India is incidental!) Their leaders  (Tom Alter, Shiv Subramanyam) want peace, but on both sides are religious zealots who aim to target a World Religions Conference in Poland (of all places) to make their point.

The Hindu group, Maa Ka Dal and the Muslim Al Kaam Tamaam (both led by the same actor, Kumud Mishra—nice touch) decide to send in suicide bombers. Hafiz Bin Ali (Riteish Deshmukh), a call centre employee with a suitably long beard is chosen for the mission from the Muslim side and Pravin Chaturvedi (Pulkit Samrat) an actor who plays Hanuman is picked by the Hindu side.

Inexplicably, they have to impersonate the other party so Hafiz had to be clean shaven and Pravin acquire an Islamic look; they also have to learn about each other’s religions, and in one of the few good scenes, they end up defending the ‘enemy’. 

The two suicide bombers befriend each other, sing and dance with a waitress (Jacqueline Fernandez), as the middle of the film sags and the jokes get too feeble to get laughs.

Anshuman used to be a film critic, so there are a lot of in jokes meant for buffs (a scene from Taxi Driver for instance, or characters called Polanski and called Wai Kar Wong, and so on), but very few laugh-out-loud gags.  The script consistently aims at low brow humour instead of sparkling wit that could have made Bangistan worth a look.  The recent Dharam Sankat MeinPK and Bajrangi Bhaijaan did the religious harmony number much better than this one.

The only ones who come out unscathed from this bomb are Riteish Deshmukh and Kumud Mishra. Poor Pulkit Samrat is dismissed as a “bura actor” even in the film.


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