Language: Hindi, Marathi
Duration: 133 minutes
Story: Written and directed by Devashish Makhija, Bhonsle follows a retired Mumbai cop who befriends a North Indian girl and her brother, while the local politicians try to get rid of the migrants.
Review: Bhonsle addresses one of the biggest debates of all times in Mumbai, insider verses outsider, with the backdrop of one of the biggest celebration in the city, the Ganesh festival. While the story raises many big questions about the city, migrants and political agendas, it also manages to simply be about a beautiful selfless relationship between a lonely old man and his new neighbours, a pair of siblings.
At the beginning of the film, Manoj Bajpayee's character Bhonsle is ending the most meaningful and longest relationship in his life. As the city gears up for the biggest festival of all time, Ganesh Chaturti, Bhonsleleaves his life behind as he hands over his uniform and retires reluctantly. Bhonsle is a man of a few words, he rarely interacts with anyone in his chawl, and chooses to stay away from the fighting and confrontations between the Maharashtrians and the migrants.
Manoj Bajpayee As Bhonsle
The only constant in his life is his everyday routine, without which his job starts to eat up his mind. From steady habits like washing clothes, cooking and feeding his dog, he goes to living in the dark along with pests, going days without proper food. At some point of time, Bhonsle himself dreams of dying alone in the 2x2 Ki Kholi without a soul to talk to. However, he hasn't given up hope and often takes chai in a thermos bottle for his superiors, hoping that they will help him out in getting his service extended.
What brings a change in his life is his new North Indian migrant neighbours, who just like him, want to make a living and stay away for the chawl's politics. They soon develop a neighbourly bond as the siblings, Sita (played by Ipshita Chakraborty Singh) and Lalu (played by Virat Vaibhav) begin to take care of him when nobody else does. Their new-found companionship after years of quiet gets Bhonsle to finally walk down the stairs and speak up during the local goon Vilas' (played by Santosh Juvekar) political outburst.
Santosh Juvekar As Vilas
Directed by Devashish Makhija, he also co-wrote the film along with Sharanya Rajgopal and Mirat Trivedi. The screenplay manages to speak volumes with the cultural influence of the city and the people, whether insiders or outsider. The Ganesh festival in the backdrop functions as an apt metaphor. A scene in the film shows Bajpayee walking unrecognisable and lost among a crowd like many others. The slow-paced drama hits hard with its music, performances and cinematography.
Ipshita Chakraborty Singh As Sita
Manoj Bajpayee is unbelievable as the 60-year-old man, he hardly speaks, but his grunts and intimidating stares are enough for the entire chawl to leave him alone. His body language, until the last minute of the film will put you in awe of the actor's skills. Similarly, Ipshita Chakraborty Singh and Virat Vaibhav are exceptional in the little but crucial part that they play. On the other hand, Santosh Juvekar will make you hate him just five minutes into the film, but you soon realise that very much like the migrants that is againt, he too is trying to make it in an over crowded city.
Overall, Bhonsle is grey and grim much like the current world, but it asks the right questions and makes you hope for the better. However, Bhonsle by no means will hand you the hope, it will rather make sure you find it deep within, only as you struggle to answer those questions.