I went for “The BONG Connection” yesterday. Quite liked it. More for its fleeting references to EVERYTHING Kolkata than for its cinematic value. I am not saying its not a good movie, but it will definitely appeal more (visually, as well as otherwise!) to Kolkatans and / or BONGS!
It has almost everything that a Kolkatan encounters:
- The AJC Bose Road flyover
- Gigs at Someplace Else
- Breakfast at Flury’s
- Kolkata Rock bands (& Bikram Ghosh on the Tabla!)
- Park Street & FORUM (where I was watching the movie!!)
- Dum Dum Airport (via Rajarhat and EM by-pass!)
- Kolkata’s “famed” IT Sector
- The Jetty(!) on Strand Road
- The yellow Ambassador taxis with grumbling taxi-wallas
- Manicktala’r “chhele”
- Nimtala’r Ghat – one of the oldest cremation grounds
… and so on!
The movie also explores the lives of Indian ex-pats from Kolkata. I particularly liked the treatment of “Hassan” alias “Haas”, a Bangladeshi who hops around from one country to another without any papers. It reminded me of “Mujib”, a Bangaldeshi I met at Petaling Street in Malaysia selling pirated Chinese stuff. Petaling Street is an underground Market in KL, Malaysia where a lot of “Chinese” goods are sold (including unbelievably real replicas of every famous watch brand you can think of!).
Hmmmm….. Whenever 2 apparently “similar” movies are released within a short interval of time, comparisons are inevitable. Comparing The Namesake and The BONG Connection would reveal that the former definitely has more “class” — there’s no doubt about it! Mira Nair has class! But, The BONG Connection is definitely more BONG! — It explores the nuances and idiosyncrasies of the BONG to the minutest detail. So IMHO (in my humble opinion), “The Namesake” is definitely more technically sound with some very crisp editing. The BONG Connection is more “accurate” as far as the depiction of The Bengali is concerned since the entire cast (unlike that of The Namesake) were either Kolkattan or Bengali — and that does come across very prominently!
The Music is OK. Baul songs, traditional Bengali folk music seem to be in vogue these days.. and no “commercial” Baul song worth its salt is complete without having the words “O Majhi” (Oh Boatman!). I’m not much into Bengali music particularly, but I liked Anjan Dutta’s “Tumi Na Thakle” which is played in the end when the credits are being shown. Anjan Dutta’s voice is soothing in the song, the guitaring is delicate, percussions are great, there’s a saxophone part in the middle and Usha Uthup’s “Ra Ba Ba .. Ba Ba!” is distinctly refreshing!
All in all, The BONG Connection is technically just about “okay” (I didn’t expect to be path-breaking cinema anyway!) Its a very plain feel-good movie and if you have either a BONG Connection (or more importantly a KOLkata Connection), you wouldn’t mind watching it — It truly is a movie OF the people, FOR the people and BY the people of Kolkata!