Director: Diya Annapurna Ghosh
Writer: Sujoy Ghosh
Cast: Abhishek Bachchan, Chitrangda Singh, Samara Tijori
Streaming on: ZEE5
The most memorable thing from Sujoy Ghosh’s epic thriller Kahaani (2012) was the meek life insurance agent Bob Biswas who is also a cold blooded contract killer. Saswata Chatterjee was spectacular as Bob. In Bob Biswas written by Sujoy and directed by his daughter Diya, Abhishek Bachchan plays Bob. It was difficult to see any other actor playing that role. The idea of a feature length film on Bob Biswas must have looked tempting on the writing table. But it’s not clear whether it’s an origin story of this contract killer or a prequel to Kahaani. Because how Bob became The Bob Biswas is not shown.
We enter into the narrative when Bob has recovered from a coma which made him forget everything from his past life. The two intelligence officers spying on him think that he’s bluffing about his amnesia. Bob has a wife (Chitrangda Singh), a son and a step-daughter (Samara Tijori). He can’t remember any of them. The officers want Bob to get back to business and kill people as told to him. Although Bob can’t remember anything and is bound to do as said, shooting from a gun comes naturally to him.
Simultaneously, there’s a drug racket spreading across Kolkata. A Blue pill is being circulated in youth by telling them that it helps in focusing on studies. Bob’s step-daughter has also got caught up in the drug addiction. Sequence after sequence we are presented with new twists and turns but the structure of the screenplay is too loose to keep you invested in one sitting. There’s some fine dialogue in the script. The camera work (Gairik Sarkar) produces some stunning cinematic images.
Abhishek Bachchan as Bob Biswas tries his best but can’t make the performance look effortless. The sheepish smile, plump body, and the mop haircut give him personality but the character never comes to life. Bachchan is trying to experiment with the new medium in OTT. His previous OTT performance Breathe: Into the Shadows (Prime Video) was decent but didn’t flourish. However, I assume Bob Biswas was initially intended for a theatrical release. Hence, there’s a star in Bachchan headlining the project. But it takes a lot to carry the whole project on your shoulders. I also wonder, if the film was intended for a direct to OTT release, could Saswata Chatterjee have got the chance to portray Bob Biswas again?
Watch Bob Biswas trailer:
In supporting actors, Chitrangda Singh as the catholic wife is far from convincing. The debutante Samara Tijori makes a sincere debut. Tina Desai and Purab Kohli are good in their cameos. The pace of the film is determined by the narrative and no one can tell the director how to pace his/her film. But when the narrative is structurally flawed, how can pace salvage it? We know nothing much about Bob even by the end of the film, not for good. It works fine when the character is just a part of a film, not when he is the protagonist.