“Bhonsle” narrates the story of a retired Mumbai Police Constable who struggles to extend his retirement, and in the journey befriends a migrant North Indian girl and her brother, in the midst of political unrest.
As the film opens, Bhonsle played by Manoj Bajpayee returns his uniform and badge back to the police department as he has retired from the force. Though as soon as he leaves the station, he requests his superiors to extend his retirement as he has neither family to spend his remaining life with nor any other work interest to follow in life.
Bhonsle lives alone in a small chawl in Mumbai, neighboring rooms surrounded by Migrant workers from North India, particularly U.P. and Bihar. The drama heats up as a local taxi driver, Vilas played by Santosh Javekar, agitated by the fact that migrants from North India are snatching away the jobs of the local Marathi people, creates a scene in the chawl to throw the migrants out immediately.
Vilas is always on a hunt to find ways to create a division between North Indians and local Marathi people. Vilas aspires to become a politician and is supported by the local political leader whom he admires a lot. He influences the local Marathi kids to fulfill his propaganda and tries to rope Bhonsle for the same, but Bhonsle refuses at the first call.
Bhonsle is indifferent to any such negative agenda and supports the North Indian girl Sita and her teenage brother Lalu in the time of need. Sita and Lalu who recently moved in the room, next door to Bhonsle tries to introduce themselves to Bhonsle who is uninterested at first but when Sita nurses Bhonsle by taking care of his health, he develops a soft corner for them and saves them from Vilas’ terror malpractices to throw them out of the chawl.
Bhonsle aims in the right direction but misses the mark.
During the current prevailing political unrest, where every second politics tries to encash the rift between migrants and locals to fill their vote banks, Bhonsle underlines some very important issues.
Bhonsle highlights the brainwashing of kids and filling their heads with political propaganda by the local leaders which impact their behavior towards their own neighbors, which is a very important issue in a country like India where the foundation is already based on “Divide and Rule” policy. It also puts an emphasis on the malicious practices of certain men to impress their superior political leader in order to get a ticket to run for the election, for the service of the people, while totally ignoring the “service” part. They want to serve the people by creating a sense of hatred in society.
Use of Symbolism
The first scene of the film, where Bhonsle untucks his uniform is intercut with scenes of Ganpati being decorated with clothes and ornaments creates a sense of symbolism in the film as it draws parallels to Ganesh Chaturthi festival while Bhosale prepares for his post-retirement life. The film ends with the same symbolic visuals of broken pieces of Ganpati’s idol lying on the beach.
Though Bhonsle highlights many important socio-political themes and is a beautifully crafted film, yet it misses the mark and fails to engage the audience. The film puts down some very important questions on the table but in a tedious tone, which lacks feelings and emotions.
Manoj Bajpayee’s ace performance elevates all the scenes he acts in, but the lack of his presence in most of them makes the film dull and monotonous.
It is a must-watch for viewers who crave for slow drama and want to get allured by an incredible performance delivered by Manoj Bajpayee as Bhonsle.
Bhonsle is a 2020 drama film written and directed by Devashish Makhija. The film stars Manoj Bajpayee as the lead protagonist who has also co-produced the film with Piiyush Singh. Bhonsle is currently streaming on SonyLiv.
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