Bob Biswas, from Sujoy Ghosh’s Kahaani, is one of those characters for whom the concept of spinoffs came into being: a few minutes of screen time full of intrigue and maximum impact. Inimitably played by Bengali actor Saswata Chatterjee, the bhadralok salesman with a day job as an LIC agent, moonlighted as an unassuming serial killer memorably bumping off targets with a brief punchline: ‘Nomoshkar, Ek Minute’. Much of the punch came from Chatterjee, who played him with a weird mix of creepy and meekness.
Now that we actually have a spinoff, Chatterjee isn’t playing Bob but Abhishek Bachchan is – a move dictated more by box office logic and less by logic. The trailer for the new film, of course called Bob Biswas, confirms the problems that arise when you go after a big name instead of an actor. Despite his roots, Bachchan struggles with a put on Bengali accent as we see a backstory unfold, unclear if the story follows the events of Kahaani (in which he is shown being run down by a vehicle) or precede them. The creepy assassin had a life, a wife, a son and a daughter. (When he looks at the mirror and says ‘Tumhare paas biwi hai, beta hai, ek beti bhi hai,’ unable to shake off the hangover of his father’s lines from Deewar, you half expect his mirror image to say something like ‘Tumhaare paas maa nahi hai’).
Biswas, we learn, has some kind of amnesia that leads him to forget easily and what looks like a ring of dishonest, criminal men takes advantage of the situation. Poor Bob is tricked into thinking he is being employed for a greater good – “Humara kaam hai acchai aur burayee k balance pe nazar rakhna”, says one of them, while another comments on something that bugs you from the beginning: How the hell does he have a wife like Chitrangada Singh?
Bob Biswas is directed by Diya Annapurna Ghosh (Ghosh’s daughter) and produced by Red Chillies Entertainment. It will release on December 3 on Zee 5.