Kushan Nandy’s “Babumoshai Bandookbaaz” (Babumoshai is Bengali slang for ‘gentleman’ and Bandookbaaz means someone who wields a gun) is an absorbing thriller about a contract killer who finds himself trapped in a web of deceit that he helped create.
Stylistically shot, borrowing many tropes from Hollywood Westerns and the Anurag Kashyap school of film-making, “Babumoshai Bandookbaaz” powers through on the strength of its leading man. Nawazuddin Siddiqui turns in another top-notch performance as self-deprecating contract killer Babu Bihari, who gives murder the cold-hearted treatment. “I’ve got a contract. What can I do? I will have to kill him,” he says, several times in the film.
But Bihari, who apparently roams the badlands of Uttar Pradesh killing people without so much as batting an eyelid, meets his match in Baanke (Jatin Goswami), a young, smart-talking contract killer who wants to usurp the former’s undisputed position as the No. 1 hired gun. When Bihari and Baanke find themselves contracted to kill the same people by the same politician, they end up playing a dangerous game of “me first” that leads to more complications than they had bargained for.
Nandy and writer Ghalib Asad Bhopali keep things straight and don’t clutter the story with too many sub-plots. Everyone in the film has a direct link to Bihari, but each character has his own little backstory, which Bhopali managed to etch out nicely. Whether it is the female politician (Divya Dutta) who holds her own in a man’s world, or the police officer who doesn’t mind having ten sons in the hope that he will have a daughter one day, the film has some nice touches to detail that enhance the screenplay.
This is one of those films that manage to surprise you – it is taut, engaging and filled with good performances. May we have more of these.