Perhaps the most gratifying part about watching Kushan Nandy’s Babumoshai Bandookbaaz trailer is the presence of its ‘star’ – Nawazuddin Siddiqui – in almost every frame. He is no more the ‘quirky supporting role’ designed to save big-budget mainstream films. He plays the protagonist and lead actor around which these same films are beginning to be designed.
A decade ago, unconventional performers like Irrfan Khan and Nawazuddin would not get films outside the realms of independent cinema. Directors weren’t queueing up to pivot their entire films around the strengths and eccentricities of these unique talents. Kushan Nandy, in his third feature film, is now attempting to take Nawaz in the upper echelons of ‘masala’ Bollywood flicks. From the trailer, it’s obvious that the crooked charm of his star will drive this hinterland flick, which is packed with guns, sex, flavor and betrayal. Nawaz himself is currently on a hot streak this year, with Haraamkhor, Raees, Mom, this week’s Munna Michael, and the upcoming Manto.
The trailer itself looks like a three-act short film. Nawazuddin’s ‘hero’ character, Babu, is established with irreverent color within the first minute. He is a famous, cocky and trash-talking hit man, who has a penchant for prostitutes, violence and one-liners. Everything looks fine and dandy until he meets a rival sharpshooter, who challenges him to a game. They have contracts to kill the same three people. Whoever fails will leave the line.
From the last minute of the trailer – where the narrative usually veers into darkness and conflict amid all the mischief – Babu seems to have been betrayed. This ‘game’ looks like it’s bigger and more ominous than he imagined it to be. He becomes a pawn in the larger scheme of things, and his romance (with Bidita Bag) is threatened as well. He suffers a tragedy, after which he becomes the classic nothing-to-lose underdog, who might turn the tables on his tormentors.
The most attractive part about this film is that this is a quintessential Khan template with no Khan in it. There’s a lot of cynicism about audiences and about this era of mainstream mediocrity and nepotism. But the mere existence of films like Babumoshai Bandookbaaz, irrespective of how they do at the box office, is a very encouraging thing. Producers have begun to punt on outsiders and performers that don’t fit within the preconceived notions of heroic physicality. Nawaz represents that change.
He is the everyman, who could just become the ultimate star of the masses in time. He comes from these masses. Thus he is the perfect foil for the conventional crowd-pullers (Salman Khan in Kick and Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Shah Rukh Khan in Raees, Tiger Shroff in Munna Michael, Sridevi in Mom). He steals the show in every film opposite the more famous faces. This, though, is his show all along.
Babumoshai Bandookbaaz releases on 25th August, 2017. Keep an eye out on BookMyShow for more details.