Give it a miss only if you want to keep the memory of The Bong Connection uninterrupted.
Two damsels, Olipriya (Parno) and Sarah (Neha), are in desperate distress in foreign lands: one in the UK in search of her father and the other in Kolkata in pursuit of her mother. The Bongs Again (TBA) is about their journey.
Bengalis have a thing for their roots. Stories have been written and films have been made about the pursuit of one’s origin. Any drama that delves into this search has always been a winner for the Bengali audience. TBA has the search in abundance. Only, it is a tad too mellow to keep the audience awake.
One might want to make a deliberate attempt to keep The Bong Connection (TBC) aside before watching the film. However, comparisons become inevitable primarily for two reasons: firstly, because the title harks back to the earlier film, and secondly, due to the constant effort by the makers to project it as a sequel. In reality, however, the second chapter of the Bong’s deeds is far removed from the sheen and shine of The Bong Connection. TBA lacks the wit and humour that make TBC a true joyride.
The essential charm of any Anjan Dutt film is its smartness. TBA, too, is smart. It has some beautiful shots, especially during Oli’s journey to Kent. But the film lacks a cohesive storyline and has quite a few glaring logical disruptions. To start with, Oli goes to London to find her dad who deserted her and her mother ages ago. Her dad, we are given to understand, taught at the University of London. In all probability, any person, dead or alive, who lectured for even one session in a UK institution should have a record in the university and that record should be easily accessible to the public. The film doesn’t, for once, elucidate why those public records couldn’t provide Oli with some leads. Also, in some cases, the chronology does not add up at all.
The film could have been crisper. From unnecessary character traits to establish Jerry’s (Anjan Dutt) bohemian life to imposed jethu-like banter by Jishu’s uncle (Dhritiman Chatterjee) — the film messes up the narrative. Moreover, in the case of Oli, this idea that a woman needs a man to make life exciting and fun is outdated and clichéd. And where is the romance? Every possibility of having magic moments between Jishu (Jisshu U Sengupta) and Sarah goes astray. What a waste!
Having said that, the film has some fantastic performances by a bunch of very talented actors. To start with, Neha Panda rocks, hands down. Her acting is fresh, impulsive and energetic. And thanks to the styling, Neha as Sarah gives us major wardrobe goals by the end of the film. Subhra Sourav delivers an able performance as Nitai. Through him, we see how delicately Anjan curates talented actors and nurtures them. Gaurav, too, as Anindyo, is amazing on screen. There is a soft sobriety in him that makes his screen presence gentle. Parno, as the grumpy, party-pooper Oli, is also comfortable in her skin. Jisshu, however, is not at his best. By now, we have relished the supreme actor in him. Any lacuna in that department disappoints us deeply.
The film also has fantastic music. Keeping up the tradition of quintessential Bengali sweetness, the film offers a bunch of fresh, rejuvenating songs. Hridmajhare rakhbo is exceptionally stimulating.
Lastly, Anjan Dutt is undisputedly one of the smartest filmmakers of our generation. Despite the sloppy screenplay he manages to offer a compact, carnivalesque one-time-watch. Give it a miss only if you want to keep the memory of The Bong Connection uninterrupted.