Films that bring back a part of your childhood automatically become special even if they are not perfect. The characters speak back to you, their little joys and big sorrows leave you moved, and the frames of little ones searching for happiness and elderly ones looking for escape through the tiny glass panes of a bioscope come and go leaving a lump in the throat and wetness around the eyes.
Bioscopewala isn’t a perfect film, and the rough edges are evident across, especially in the first half. There are many times you would think there is over-dramatization of events, too many things happening, loud background score, there are missing subtitles for bengali dialogs, and sometimes the pain and loss of the central characters does not seem to have as much soul, and especially wonder how a daughter can be so detached to a father even in the deepest moment of grief. And then suddenly there are scenes and frames that are extremely involving and you can feel the poetry depicted on screen. Its those moments which stand out – whether it is about little memories that Minnie has about her dear bioscopewala or her distant father, or about a very warm moment shared between the two most important women in her dad’s life which starts with ‘zindagi ne mujhe aisa kuchh nahi diya jo maut mujhse chheen sake‘ but ends with ‘he raised you well‘, or about finding closures in life through creating illusions of film reels that are far more real and complete than the respective hollow that two individuals are living with. Its that final reel of the bioscope that completes the two, and helps one to reason out why it is okay to be far more anxious about tracing down the roots of a forgotten man than to grieve for your own father.
I wish the overall script of Bioscopewala was tighter, because its the wavering screenplay that stops this outing of terrific performances from becoming a terrific film. While the production design, cinematography are all the point, the performances are the actual strength of the film. Geetanjali Thapa gives yet another tremendous performance and the balances out the battles she fights with grief, shock, incompleteness or loneliness very well. Danny Denzongpa has such an endearing presence throughout the film that you really want to go and hug him in many scenes. Adil Hussain, Tisca Chopra, Brijendra Kala, Ekavali Khanna all deliver in their smaller roles and become a part of Minnie’s journey to finally find her completeness in their own compassionate ways.
Life often proves in its own ways that the relationships of heart are far stronger than the relationships of birth, irrespective of whether you are Minnie, Rehmat Khan, Robi, Shobita, Bhola or Wahida. Some of the most heart tugging and fascinating images of that endearing journey are often captured even in our lives through the nostalgic reels of that one Bioscopewala above, beyond everyone’s grip and understanding. Deb Medhekar tries to get a handle around that, and makes an earnest attempt to bring that honestly on screen – and for the most parts he succeeds, at least to take you back to your childhood. Afterall Rabindranath Tagore’s Kabuliwala is way too close to the heart!