Bamfaad Movie Review: A no-frills tribute to Hindi film romance
Bamfaad, Ranjan Chandel’s film starring newcomers Aditya Rawal and Shalini Pandey, mixes realism with old-school love to satisfying results
As a low-budget feature, Bamfaad has the texture and feel of a gritty heartland drama, and is presented, unsurprisingly, by Anurag Kashyap. The characters in such movies are often filmy hotheads — a device used to contrast their dreamy inner lives with their immediate surroundings.
Cast: Aditya Rawal, Shalini Pandey
Director: Ranjan Chandel
Presented by: Anurag Kashyap
Bamfaad, directed by debutant Ranjan Chandel, borrows a similar Angry Young Man template, though the intent here is different. The film is high on realism and bursts of violence but doesn’t stray from its romantic core. It’s a film that’s genuinely rooting for its protagonist and will see to it that he wins. The fatalism of a small-town romance is exchanged for a more straightforward victory.
Nasir (debutant Aditya Rawal) is the pampered son of political hopefuls in Allahabad. Running errands for a friend, he catches sight of Neelam (Shalini Pandey). She’s dismissive of him at first — but later eases up to his advances. He calls her ‘bamfaad’ (crackling, impetuous), bewitched as much by her curtness as the alliterative match of their names. And so, while it becomes clear where the story is headed, with Vijay Varma making the rounds as a local strongman and Neelam living suspiciously alone, Nasir keeps up with his romantic pursuit, resolving to face anything that comes his way.
For the most part, Bamfaad stays with the journey of the lovers. Only occasionally does it pull back to offer a wider view. Ranjan, working with co-writer Hanzalah Shahid, pokes around at the betrayals and power struggles that cramp life in small-towns. Jatin Sarna is engrossing as a best friend with broken loyalties. This, though, is all the politics the film has to offer. Unlike the eloping lovers in Sairat, or the couple in Mukkabaaz, Nasir and Neelam don’t fall prey to larger socio-politics — though the foregrounding of Muslim characters in Allahabad is a statement in itself.
The film’s opening sequence, unfolding at a college, is reminiscent of Tigmanshu Dhulia’s Haasil (2003), another Allahabad-set debut about clashing youngsters. The scene where Nasir dashes through the rain, a fast Sufi track playing in the background, could be out of an Emraan Hashmi film from the late-2000s. The triangle that drives the story is similar to the one in Awarapan, itself remade from the Korean drama, A Bittersweet Life.
For a Bombay boy, Aditya wrestles well with the Illahbadi lingo, though he fails to carry the film as a romantic lead. Shalini, also making her Hindi debut, fares much better, punctuating obvious exasperation with hints of a smile. Towering over them is Vijay Varma, always a step ahead of the problem at hand. Even as the lovers find their wings and a rebellion breaks out, he remains coolly composed in his game, like Mads Mikkelsen in Charlie Countryman.
Bamfaad’s youngness is offset by its antique heart. At a theatre, Nasir compares Neelam to Divya Bharti, not Deepika Padukone. A bike is replaced by a buggy, and there are pigeons — that lasting icon of Hindi film romance — in many of the frames. “Patience and restraint are rewarded in love,” a friend tells Nasir. It’s not the kind of advice you give a Bollywood hero.