We first heard about Baboo Band Baaja when it bagged three national awards – for Best First Film of a Director, Best Actress and Best Child Artist. The film has been ready for quite sometime and it finally released last friday. Some of the theatres are screening the film with subtitles. Here’s Mohit Patil‘s recco post for the film.
This is Mohit‘s first post here. When he isn’t busy attending engineering college, he worships Kaufman, Bhardwaj and Scorsese.In the very first scene in director Rajesh Pinjani’s Baboo Band Baaja, we are given a glimpse of the life led by Baboo (played brilliantly by Vivek Chabukswar) – that his family must bank on the deaths/births happening in their village in order to make a living. His father Jaggya (Milind Shinde) is a band player. Once a band party owner, he now earns a (rather lumpish) living by playing at modest wedding processions and cortegès. His mother Shirmi (Mitali Jagtap) works as a Bohareen – selling utensils in exchange for old, used garments. The story begins as Baboo finds his rucksack missing, and so does an endless struggle of this family to change things.
Jaggya wants Baboo to become a band member like him. The reason for this call isn’t a father wanting to see his son to be like him, but his presumption that there is no other way out. “We villagers are in no way helped by the technological advancements,” he argues, “All that has changed is the number of airplanes flying above our heads”. Throughout the film, we see his mother as a heterodox in a comparatively orthodoxical society. She wants to educate her son and goes to great lengths to earn money to buy books for Baboo, whose school master won’t allow him in without books and uniform. She’s elated when she gets a pair of khaki shorts in exchange for a larger vessel, which can be used as her son’s school uniform. And she is enraged when she discovers that the reason for her husband’s anger is the fact that Baboo has lost his rattle and not that he has lost his school bag.
One of the film’s biggest triumphs is that it sticks to its business and tells the story of the family’s endeavor with great simplicity and without diverting its focus towards “shocking the viewer with the appalling reality…” etc. I did find the emotions exaggerated at places with the lurid low angle shots of the school master punishing Baboo or the histrionics of the wily politician, and wished it weren’t as overstated, but it all works nevertheless.
Another very impressive thing about Baboo Band Baaja is that it has a very keen eye for detail. Not a single thing here seems unauthentic or out-of-place. Especially, the language used here, is pure gold. If you couldn’t buy the Hindi speaking characters in some of our recent urban rom-coms, or the characters not referring to Mumbai as Bombay or Bambai in Dhobi Ghat, you are bound to be more than satisfied with the language and the actors’ inch perfect dialect here. The instruments that the bandwallahs play in the film, the songs that they play, selecting the dress code for the grand wedding they are appointed for, the astute observations about the local life in Vidarbha… Discovering these rural life vignettes first hand is pure joy, so I’d rather not spoil it for you.
The characters are very well written, and the actors who play them are terrific for the most part, save for the school teacher who is baselessly portrayed as an evil baddie, as opposed to someone who is just doing his job. Watch Mitali Jagtap and Vivek Chabukswar speak through their eyes in one of the best moments in the film; the scene which has hardly any dialogue, in which Shirmi readies Baboo for school.
The film uses all its subplots, which rather smartly towards the culmination. There is metrical dichotomy in the way things fall back into place towards the end. The beautiful symmetry between the first and the last scene of the film more than made up for my feeling of redundancy after the final blow.
Baboo Band Baaja is a simple, heartfelt story of what appears to be parents’ struggle to make things better, and turns into something so painful, it takes a piece of your heart.