Haripada Bandwala is a remake of 2014 Punjabi comedy film Disco Singh, which itself was loosely based on the 2009 Bollywood film Do Knot Disturb which in turn was a remake of the 2006 French film The Vale! Phew… But the ‘Bengalisation’ of the originals is complete and the film could do without the adaptation tag and stand quite well on its own.
Haripada (Ankush Hazra) is a failed singer and head of a band that performs at weddings, birthday parties, festivals and family functions. His only audio disc is a big failure and his sole purpose in life is to get people to buy it and help him realise his dreams of making it big as a singer one day. Rarely does mainstream Bengali cinema etch out the figure of a young man who is a failure because he probably is no talent in music. He is also a simpleton in a manner of speaking and gets trapped in a spidery web of the local don Nandalal (Kharaj Mukherjee). How he comes out of the constant threat of death hanging over him makes for a rickety, funny film with a lot of comic entertainment woven into the script and more importantly, the acting of Ankush as Haripada.
The first fifteen minutes of the film, directed by Pathikrit Basu, almost stand still but once Ankush begins to really get into the game, the film picks up and is filled with many comic moments of real fun. However, it is not the ‘Bengali intellectual’ fun one reads of in Bengali literature or has seen in Tapan Sinha’s or Uttam Kumar’s films but more of the contemporary variety that speaks to the mass audience in a language it understands and enjoys and is entertained by. The quiet, simple and straightforward Haripada however, throws all caution to the winds when and if anyone, including the dangerous and obese Nandalal, tells him that he is nothing more than a ‘chaar aana ka bandwallah’ because he insists that every artist should be treated with respect. He also cannot tolerate any eve-teasing of girls by roadside Romeos and bashes them up to a pulp when the same Romeos pester the same girl three times and Haripada appears like Alladin’s gene from NK Salil’s magic script. That makes for a lot of fun in the action scenes as obviously, the girl falls head-over-heels for Ankush. One ingenuous fight shows Ankush getting off his decorated auto rickshaw to beat up the ruffians with different parts of his musical band instruments alone and they are forced to run for their lives.
Nandalal on the other hand, is very fond of using his gun any which way without purpose just to show the power he wields over X number of police men, n-number of MPs and XYZ-numbers of MLAs though none of these are borne out over the film. One of his gun-toting goons gets shot every time on the backside and screams out loud till one day, he accidentally shoots himself on his very thin behind. Nandalal’s Achilles Heel is his wife Maadhu (Laboni Sarikar) and every time she calls him up, he trembles in fear. Maadhu is very loudly dressed, talks constantly in a very high pitch, is almost always on the treadmill, heavily made up and yet performing every kind of fast possible for the long life of her husband Nandalal.
The love angle forms the backbone of the story and though it is paper-thin filled with ample logical holes, it is entertaining in parts. Haripada falls in love with a model-turned-actress Sweetie (Nusrat Jehan) and is delighted when Nandalal orders him to go dating the girl because he has the keen eye on her and wants her for himself. Troubles begin when Sweetie falls in love with Haripada too and all hell breaks loose in Nandalal’s fiefdom. Haripada has a very irritating habit of laughing funnily, without making the usual sound of laughter but trying to hide his laughter in a funny way and this takes everyone by surprise. The comic timing Ankush uses to enhance this funny strategy offers entertainment of a different kind. Nusrat is too heavily made-up and is always minus a hairdresser, a secretary and a handmaid for a top actress and even opens the door of her flat herself.
It is a loud film but there are no item numbers, no cuss words or invective and even the bad men are more funny than bad. The action shots are threaded in for fun and not to reflect violence while the don’s family that includes his dozens of black cats and gun men an two stooges of which one is gay, his wife and his daughter who suddenly surfaces one day spell out entertainment that is neither refined nor sophisticated but has its funny and enjoyable moments all the same. The gay character portrayed a bit over the top by Biswanath Ghosh might anger the queer community if they happen to watch the film because the gay identity is too much in the face and lacks sobriety.
The camera is nothing to write home about. The editing does not pose any challenges whatsoever. But these small things do not matter in this film that pretends to be nothing else that what it is – simple fun and some laughter at simple jokes and a few lines that might sound funny within the serious scenario that is spouting out Shakespeare with every other breath. The song-dance numbers are obviously dream scenes captured in fantasy land with Haripada and Sweetie singing sweet nothings to each other but if you listen carefully, which the reasonably good musical score will manipulate you to, the lyrics are not really ‘sweet nothings” and reach out beyond the simple love story into something more meaningful.
What happens to that audio disc? Well, to know that, you must watch the film!
Bengali, Comedy, Color