Verdict: Bow Barracks is a rare delight in cinema. Clichéd, but textured enough to keep the viewer engaged.
Bow Barracks Forever captures a slice of life or atleast a version of it. It is claustrophobic and dark at times, but maintains tempo. Anjan Dutt creates a world filled with difficult characters from the chaotic streets of Calcutta. They are people who have shades of grey and who have been traumatised by the fear of extinction. Dutt’s point of view works well on screen but not without a few clichés.
The film opens by stating facts about the Anglo Indian community living in Calcutta. Director Anjan Dutt chooses to tell a story which sets him apart from the flock. Bradley, a musician, is job-hopping while his mother has been hoping that her elder son Ken will call them to London. Anne faces domestic violence from her husband, Tom. Rosa, a forty-something woman, is bereft of passion and desperately seeks an opportunity to leave her husband Melville. The surprise in the pack is Peter-the cheater, played delightfully by Victor Banerjee. The film is about the inner turmoil of each of these characters set against the backdrop of their community, which is under threat.
However, this film projects a very limited and stereotypical portrait of the Anglo Indians living in India. Such as the abusive language, infidelity, alcohol abuse and a few more elements give the film a sense of banality. However Bow Barracks Forever rises up due to an album which beautifully infuses flavor to well-shot sequences in the film. The soundtracks leave you feeling melancholic and perhaps even pity for Anglo Indian faction.
With well-edited shots both in terms of length and techniques, the film never ceases to engage the audiences in the story. Bow Barrack, a locality in present day Kolkata, is still in threat of being demolished and needs repairs. Anjan Dutt captures the strength of a community when the residents of Bow Barrack unite to battle local goons. The film is charming and perfectly creates a world of its own because of a wonderful ensemble cast. Lillete Dubey, Sabyasachi Chakraborty, Moon Moon Sen, Victor Banerjee, Avijit Dutt, George Baker, Neha Dubey among others really under the skin of the characters they play. Singer Usha Uthup and veteran actor Roopali Ganguly shine in cameos.
In midst of the chaos, there love blossoms in the hearts of Sally, Bradley and Anne. Overall the film is well captured by cinematographer Indranil Mukherjee. His lens, Arghyakamal Mitra’s editing and Anjan Dutt’s eye for details adds a texture to the screenplay of this film. Bow Barracks Forever is an experience. It leaves you contemplating the characters, the locality and the most irrational situations.
Why should you watch this film?
It is a story of survival of a community under threat makes the film an exciting watch.
By Soham Bhattacharyya