Director: Parambrata Chatterjee
Writers: Parambrata Chatterjee, Aniruddha Dasgupta, Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay
Cast: Parambrata Chatterjee, Koyel Mallick, Anjan Dutt, Kanchan Mullick
Streaming on: Hoichoi
Parambrata Chatterjee’s Bony stars him, Koyel Mallick, and a doll – no this isn’t Paapi Gudia 2.0 but something like that without the guilty pleasures. Neither is it Annette (forgive me for bringing down the discourse around Leos Carax’s work to this level) which, like Bony, passes off a toy doll for a real human baby.
But where Annette does so with a deliberate embracing of artifice which goes with the design of the film, Bony does it because it can’t come up with anything better. The titular child is born still – she doesn’t move, doesn’t cry, doesn’t do anything, just keeps lying without batting her eyelids, thanks to an intervention by some rogue Russian scientists that involves Artificial Intelligence – but she’s still a human child of blood and flesh, we are told, whose heart is in the right place.
It has all these ideas built into it – a Satyanarayan puja is being conducted in the house when a robot with god-like abilities lies in the storeroom – but the film doesn’t tease them out.
It’s a tricky thing to pull off on screen (Bony is based on a Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay story): you can’t cast a real baby and expect her to act lifeless; at the same time you can’t cast a f*cking doll and expect to be taken seriously. (And Bony expects to be taken seriously. You have Anjan Dutt as a scientist, who says things like ‘I won’t let my research be used to kill thousands of people’).
Which is why I wouldn’t have made the film if I were Parambrata Chatterjee – I would’ve rather given my time and energy to acting in the next Netflix original or something. His work as a director has been average at best and he certainly lacks the imagination and flair to adapt such a story for the screen. Bony isn’t terrible – which might have been fun – but a bland rendering of a bonkers story by a beloved children’s author who draws from a vibrant history of sci-fi in Bengali literature, as if the villains in a Professor Shonku instalment entered a somewhat grown-up universe of marital fulfilment and parenthood.
It has all these ideas built into it – a Satyanarayan puja is being conducted in the house when a robot with god-like abilities lies in the storeroom – but the film doesn’t tease them out; it simply goes about it in a by-the-numbers manner, with all the passion and intensity of a homework submission. Chatterjee does better as an actor; he and Mallick are believable as a Bengali married couple living in Italy. It’s when a doll enters the picture that there is trouble in paradise.