In 2007, a movie that caught my fascination was the Bengali/English movie The Bong Connection. It was the second directorial outing of Anjan Dutt. The story of the movie was first of many films in coming years that joined two worlds together through the connection of being a Bengali–Bong as it had been stylized, an alien term at that time and a renowned term to address the Bengali nowadays.
The story revolves around two boys in their twenties–Apu and Sandy. Apu (played by Parambrata Chatterjee) went to America leaving his city, his root declaring to his fiance Sheela (played by Raima Sen) “Kolkata is a doomed Titanic…“. He promised her to come back and take her to America once he got settled there. On the other hand, Sandy (played by Sayan Munshi) an aspiring American born and brought up musician comes to Kolkata to pursuits his dream of being a renowned musician. They both faces conflict while achieving their goals and at the end, they both goes back to their home (read roots) being feeling dissipated and dejected, but, fill with lessons of honoring their roots.
Ten years had passed from then. I was then eighteen years old boy and now twenty-eight. So, when the so-call sequel to the aforementioned movie released I was excited and planned to watch the movie on the first day before critiques’ words and word-of-mouth influenced me. Anjan Dutt last few movie outing had been harshly criticized and panned, though, not all of them needed the same treatment, but, they were. I, being a fan, also got influenced by these reviews and all ’cause for the hunger of watching good movies, not some movies even it is directed by my favorite director.
The movie has been named The Bongs Again. I didn’t dislike the movie neither I like it.
The story now evolved around two girls in their twenties-Olipriya and Sara. Olipriya had journeyed to London to search out her estranged father Deepak; she disguised this by presenting “checking out all the things with her boyfriend Anindya in London before getting hitched”. Then she met Anjan Dutt and Hasan Khan. She set out on a journey to Kent with the two men in search of her father and in the end, she came to know she had been with her father Deepak played by Anjan Dutt all the time. At the end, she called off her relationship with Anindya and set out on a journey to roam the world like her father–all alone.
Meanwhile, in Kolkata, Sara had come in search of her biological mother who had left her at an orphanage when she was about a year old; later she was adopted by a couple from London. In her journey, she met with Jishu U. Sengupta character and Nitai (don’t get the name of the actor who played the role with such an elegant poise). At the end, she remained at Kolkata. Her story was treated like a short story with an end without a proper end.
The Bongs Again is being regarded as the sequel to The Bong Connection (2007). But, actually, it’s a thematic sequel. Two characters were taken to the cities where they were alien at beginning and grows a closeness to those cities through meeting with a number of characters and passing through a number of events. There’s another theme that got repeated in this movie. In the Connection, there was one character who declared Bengalis can be found everywhere. In this movie also the character played by Dhritiman Chatterjee, paternal uncle of Jishu U. Sengupta in the movie, on his first meeting with Sara said Bengalis can be found in everything.
The story of Olipriya seems to be stronger at some certain points. It seems that the movie can be made following her story, her journey. The story of Sara was included to make the theme of two characters in two alien cities work.
Parno Mitra as Olipriya aka Oli had presented a marvelous piece of an act. The scene where she confronted Anjan Dutt, still unknown of the fact he is the father, screaming at him by cursing his wordings of there’s wanderlust in every Bengali was one of the best scenes in the movie. In the whole movie, she had maintained the image of serious no-nonsense girl efficiently.
On the other hand, Sara played by Neha Panda was sometimes gloomy, sometimes dull and sometimes dramatic especially where she broke down after seeing the body of Nitai. It’s her third outing as an actress; this time, though, she had a much more screentime than the last two–Hawa Bodol and Maach, Mishti & More. But, she failed mostly in enacting the emotion and that got caught when Jishu was with her.
Kheyali Dastidar as the mother of Oli as well as landlady to Sara in a cameo was a delight to see though she hadn’t got much chance to enact her acting talent, but, still, she would hold a position of being a caring mother who treated tenant Sara as her own daughter.
After women comes the round of the gentlemen. Gaurav Chakrabarty as Anindya seems to be a character emerging from one of Jhumpa Lahiri stories who had struggled hard to have the financial stability in London; he had played this character efficiently and with grace. The Pakistani immigrant played by Hasan Khan was only there to take the story forward as it seems. He was the only friend to Jerry played by Anjan Dutt. His acting was not fine again not so not fine. It’s just between somewhere this two.
Next, comes, Jisshu U. Sengupta as a boy who was a businessman of garments. He held from a well to do traditional family and always remain by side of Sara.He hadn’t disappointed in enacting his character. He with every movie not only giving us a character to remember but also presenting strong acts that always need a sit up and take notice.
Anjan Dutt is the next one. As the days going, he’s just turning to an enigmatic actor who’ll surprise you with his act. In every movie, he’s just doing something different breaking the barrier of limitation levied on actors of his age. The way he played the character of Jerry here, I might be exaggerated, was a fine one. That heavy voice with an unsteady eye and mindset that got reflect through his body languages were more than enough to showcase his talent. He also had got a step ahead by playing a bisexual in the movie.
(And there is) Dhritiman Chatterjee, another veteran actor, who whenever came into movie grab all the attention with his presence.
The songs of the film are not so appealing one like the ones from the Connection. The “500 Miles Away from Home” or “Railroaders’ Lament” in the voice of Anjan Dutt stood out of all for the picturization–Kent and its countryside and the way he had sung it. There’s also a Rabrindra Sangeet–“Tomae Gaan Shonabo…”; like last time they didn’t change the tune, but, to make it appealing as the chemistry between characters played by Paoli and Hasan Khan grows, there was a portion of English sung by Anjan Dutt. There’s also the popular Baul song “Tomae Hridhimar Jhaare…” which had recreated tune wise and lyric wise to create a bridge between Oli and Sara as they broke out into enjoyment being intoxicated. The theme song was okayish one. And there’s another song on Kolkata as Nitai helped Sara for the wedding invitation. On overall, the music tracks of the movie are not so remarkable one.
To conclude it can be said, Anjan Dutt has tried best to make a comeback as a director. And he had succeeded up to much extent. But, the problem lies, as I think, is in the execution. As I mentioned early, the story of Sara seemed to be pushed into the movie to maintain the theme of two characters and two cities. Otherwise, The Bongs Again is a movie that can be seen for once and later, if wanted, to understand how Kolkata has changed from the one in The Bong Connection in 2007 to The Bongs Again in 2017, but, searching for roots haven’t.
P.S. I will like to apologize to the readers for not being able to recollect the names of the character played by Hasan Khan and Jisshu U. Sengupta.