Film: "Baandhon" ("Waves of Silence"); Cast: Bishnu Kharghoria, Jatin Bora, Bina Patangia, Zerifa Wahid, Abastosh Bhuyan and Anshuman Bhuyan; Director: Jahnu Barua; Rating: ***
With two major recognitions - the National Award for the best regional film and best film at the Bangalore International Film Festival, "Baandhon" is the first Assamese film to be released outside the state under the PVR Director's Rare Banner. The film opened the feature film section of Indian Panorama at the 43rd International Film Festival of India and was also screened at the International Film Festival of Kerala.
Simplistic in its output, the film interestingly begins with a 73 years old couple - Dandeswar (Bishnu Kharghoria) and Hkawni (Bina Patangia), who lead a secluded life in the outskirts of Guwahati, grudgingly nudging each other for a divorce. They approach one of their ex-tenants, now a family friend, a high court lawyer Jatin (Jatin Bora) to file the divorce petition.
This is not the first time that divorce has crossed their minds, but this time the couple is adamant to end their misery once and for all. And while Jatin is aware that this is just a passing phase and the couple will patch up soon, he pretends to prod the couple with, "give me a good enough reason" for the divorce-petition to be accepted.
Through this process, backed with a couple of flashback scenes, the audience is fed with the life history of the couple. Then, on advice from Jatin the couple decides to live separately in the two different bedrooms of their bungalow.
And in the backdrop of the divorce drama, the couple is also concerned about transferring their property to their grandson, Pona. Simply because he is their only living kin, as the couple had lost their only son and daughter-in-law in an accident some years ago. "Pona is the reason of me living," Dandeswar once states to the bureaucrat in-charge of the transfer deeds.
While we are engrossed with the lives of the old couple, the film takes a wild twist when their grandson goes missing in the attacks of 26/11 in Mumbai. The film captures the turmoil and the upheavals the couple goes through in trying to come to terms with the void that has been created in their lives forever.
Bhisnu Kharghoria portrays the loving, simpleton Dandeswar with ease, his pain and concern for his wife surfaces when he learns that his grandson is missing. This change of heart touches you. Equally competent is Bina Patangia as the feisty Hkawni. Together they make a lovely pair, whose lives are so similar to the ordinary millions of couples in our country.
Jatin Bora as the young advocate and support system to the old couple is praiseworthy. Zerifa, his wife, lends the glamour quotient to this otherwise sedate narrative.
Produced by the Assam State Film (Finance and Development) Corporation Ltd. the production quality of the film is good. The background score and sound design by Jatin Sarma and editing by Cheragh Todiwala are simple, yet noteworthy.
The script is compact and engrossing. Director Jahnu Barua, a multiple National award winner, has sensitively written and helmed "Baandhon". He could have worked a bit on the cinematography. The set visuals delivered by cinematographer Sumon Dowerah have limited frames that one usually witnesses in TV dramas, but this should not deter you from seeing this film.