The central theme of the film is “friendship without boundaries,” an important premise to explore in our society. We are overly critical of friendship with someone from the opposite sex, even more so when that camaraderie is between two elderly people. Films like Gondi can play a part in conditioning people to become more accepting of such companionships
There’s a routine I follow before watching most local films. I see the trailer, I see the director’s previous films, and I keep my expectations in check. Going into the premiere of Fakhrul Arefeen Khan’s latest film Gondi, my expectations were bare minimum, given I couldn’t finish his last film Bhuban Majhi after two failed attempts. All I was looking forward to in this film was the on-screen chemistry between two screen legends Sabyasachi Chakraborty and Suborna Mustafa. But the film positively exceeded my expectations.
Based on a story by Suvojit Roy, the film revolves around Asgar (Sabyasachi), a retired old man who lives alone, dabbling in astrology to pass the time. His closest friend is his granddaughter who lives in England with her parents (Majnun Mijan and Aparna Ghosh). The highlight of Asgar’s lonely days is the Skype call with that granddaughter. Suborna’s character, on the other hand, is a practicing dentist; a widow, whose daughter also lives in England. Fate seems to play Cupid, as these two keep bumping into each other under hilarious circumstances. As their friendship deepens, their children can’t accept the intimacy and stage a cruel intervention.
Both Sabyasachi and Suborna have a gift for comedy, as is evident in Gondi. Their portrayals of these unconventional characters were a delight to behold. But this comedy film was breaking tone every time Majnun Mijan and Aparna Ghosh occupied the screen. They almost seemed to be unaware of the genre of the film they were in.
The amount of product placement in this film is far above the norm. Sponsorship is hard to come by for non-FDC films, but selling the title is a definite overkill even by Bangladeshi standards. From ACI to JCI, the products and logos appear too often and are too loud to ignore.
The hostility between the parents and their distressed children resolves abruptly towards the end. A calamity brings the two families together, but the film doesn’t give us any hint about why polar opposites reconcile during or after that event. It also doesn't bat an eyelash at the fact that Asgar speaks in a thick Kolkata accent throughout the film.
The central theme of the film is “friendship without boundaries,” an important premise to explore in our society. We are overly critical of friendship with someone from the opposite sex, even more so when that camaraderie is between two elderly people. Films like Gondi can play a part in conditioning people to become more accepting of such companionships.
These are extraordinary times in Bangla cinema when three decent local films (Gondi, Kathbirali, and No Dorai) are running at cineplexes simultaneously and the Hollywood films (Jumanji: The Next Level and Dolittle at the moment) running side by side aren’t too seductive either.
Like Sabyasachi said in an interview to the Dhaka Tribune Showtime, there is something in this film for everyone- from eight to 80 year olds. Everyone can bet 300 taka (the usual ticket price) on this film to strike up important conversations, not about how technically sound the film is, but about the central theme explored here that is plaguing our society even today.
Gondi opened on February 7 in 13 theatres across the country.