If It Ain’t Broke…
Based on a wonderful story ‘Kabuliwala’ by Rabindranath
Tagore, this story turns a dry-fruit vendor into a
Bioscopewala, and Minnie and her dad into this modern
dysfunctional family. It is not just a stretch but the whole
film is about Minnie rediscovering ‘facts’ that everyone and
their popcorn in the audience has already guessed. You
want to slap Minnie many times, but Danny as Bioscopewala
wins your hearts…
Minnie (Geetanjali Thapa) has to fly down to Kolkata from Paris
because her father Robi Basu (Adil Hussain, in a short sweet
role), is feared dead in a plane crash. The plane was flying to
Kabul and the family retainer Bhola (played wonderfully as
always by Brijendra Kala) brings her back home from the airport.
She’s hot and irritated and does not like that the airlines does not
know what and whys of the plane’s disappearance. Minnie
comes across as all-curly hair and pretty face and self absorbed
because she has to deal with this ‘nonsense’. She is shown at
first to ignore her father’s call (father sits down at the airport and
writes a letter to her! Of course they haven’t heard of emails!).
Of course she tells the boyfriend she’s irritated by it all. Her father
has been stern to her and she gets flashbacks of going into the
photo studio and being scolded…
Now she has to deal with the police, the airlines and even
unscrupulous lawyers who want to cash in on the tragedy. The
cops are there to drop off an old man in their house. Apparently
the father had fought for the custody of the old man for years
and years. Brijendra Kala too is unable to say who the old man
Rehmat Khan is. Because Minnie is too self absorbed to find out
who and why the old man was a subject of her father’s
fascination. She just wants the old man out.
Danny Denzongpa plays the old man Rehmat Khan. He suffers
from Alzheimer’s and the way Minnie treats someone she doesn’t
know, makes you want to slap her hard. Danny is a gem. He
emotes so well and carries the past on his shoulders magnificently.
The flashbacks show us how amazing an actor he is. He’s pining
away for his daughter who is the same age as Minnie, and despite
all these years in prison, she is still the child he has left behind
and so is Minnie.
Minnie gets her father’s belongings and conducts the last rites.
Very reluctantly. She even tells people who have gathered home
that she is not connected for years with her dad. What we want to
know is why she has not opened her dad’s belongings collected
from the airlines’ office?
There are a lot of annoying things like that in the movie. If she
doesn’t want to deal with Rehmat Khan, she could easily drop him
off at some old folks home or some hospice. Why is she looking
for people who knew him? Brijendra Kala could have told her the
man was her childhood Bioscopewala! The poor retainer takes
her all over the place while she is trying to ascertain if Rehmat
Khan is innocent or no. That brings in Tisca Chopra and sundry
other people who talk about Rehmat Khan. After what seems like a
dumb pointless trip to Kabul (where she finds amid the rubble of
Rehmat Khan’s village the signboard of the cinema he ran until the
Taliban took over! At this point you want to throw something at
the screen because you have suspended your disbelief too
much). She’s so self-absorbed, even when the boyfriend shows up
in Kabul, she doesn’t even hug him!
Thankfully for one lucid moment Danny makes you forget the
stupidities of Minnie. And the credits roll. You come away
wondering how they took a wonderful story and spat out a
stupid version. Bring Balraj Sahni’s Kabuliwala (Bimal Roy
directs!) back, I say!
(this review appears on nowrunning dot com)