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'Handa-Bhonda': Collage of inspired films

'Handa-Bhonda': Collage of inspired films

Children will love some of the lines but the film is not for them

The title is all this film has in common with the famous Bengali comic strip called Handa-Bhonda. The rest is just like a collage of 'inspired ideas' is expected to be.

Handa/Mridul (Mithun Chakraborty) is a meek man who works in the pension office riddled with corruption. His son Bhonda/Shayon (Aritra), is a Bengali version of Dennis the Menace and some more. In school, he does everything but study. At home, he either watches item numbers on television or spits out water at the elderly neighbour when he comes out to water his plants.

Desperate to gain an edge over his affluent classmate Victor, Bhonda steals money from his father's purse, goes wandering off into a shopping mall and buys himself a mobilephone. He also forges his father's signature on his report card when he flunks in every subject in every exam.

When Handa fails miserably to control Bhonda, Handa's wife's ghost casts a magic spell on father and son for seven days. Handa's spirit enters Bhonda's body and abracadabra, things change magically.

Bhonda's soul in Handa's body shakes up the office not only with his way of punishing the scamsters and resolving the scams, but also with his changed get-up of loud sweatshirts pulled over faded jeans, red cap, jerky body language and tacky vocabulary.

Handa in Bhonda's body is suddenly quiet, obedient, meek and very good in studies. There is a hilarious touch when the attractive class teacher tries to hug and kiss him and the little boy with an adult soul says, "What are you doing, ma'am, and that too, in front of everyone?"

All issues are solved after seven days. Father is back in his body and ditto for the son. But Handa is no longer the meek soul who allowed everyone to ride over him. Bhonda is still naughty enough to douse his father in a bucketful of flour, but is now a very good boy.

Take a dollop of ideas from Ichhapuran (1969), a film directed by Mrinal Sen for the Children's Film Society of India; take two cupfuls of characters from Freaky Friday (2003), a Hollywood film starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan, convert them from female to male and add this to ideas you took from the Sen film. Place these in Padmanava Dasgupta's script blender and churn for a while. Take a pinch of concepts from Dennis the Menace, add some flavouring from the famous Richie Rich comic strip, change the language, stars, ambience, music and place.

Put all this together in a microwave, and after three months or so, when you take it out of your giant microwave oven of celluloid, what comes out will be a film called Handa-Bhonda, the title from yet another famous Bengali comic strip.

Mithun Chakraborty is an example of restraint in the first half. He looks incredulous in the second half though he tries to pull it off. Aritra, the boy who reality shows have turned into an adult much ahead of his time, slips into a character specially written with him in mind. He is a bit controlled. Mithun as Handa looks like Bhonda's grandfather. A slightly older actor in Bhonda's role or a younger actor as Handa would have done the trick.

Supriya Devi and Paran Bandopadhyay are good in two brief cameos.

The background score is very loud. The songs are okay, with funny lyrics.

The end could have been effective had director Shubhankar Chatterjee closed the film on Mithun coming out of his room doused in flour, thanks to his son's prank. But he drags it on with an item number Mithun performs – miserably indeed – with a bevy of skimpily clad young girls.

Children will love some of the lines but the film is not, repeat, not for them.

Critic: Shoma A Chatterji

first published:April 05, 2010, 16:50 IST