Somewhere in the third or fourth episode of this well-intended but vapid series on the age-old tussle between classical and popular styles of singing, a ‘bipolar’ joke shows up when the film’s hero Radhe (Ritwick Bhowmick), a repressed victim of borderline abuse from his guru Radhe Mohan Rahod (Naseruddin Shah), is being forced into marrying a girl he doesn’t love. She wonders if he is sexually straight. “No, I’m bi-polar,” answers Radhe, as if the two were afflictions in the same line of vision to fob off unwanted attention.
The awkwardly titled Bandish Bandits means well. The Anand Tiwari directorial wants to bring out the dynamics of the conflict between Hindustani classical music and contemporary, auto-tune kind of singing. In other words, the raging war between the raw, refined and the studio-defined. A good, even noble idea is squandered away in some terrible writing and an able but unsure cast that is often lost in the vain quest for a centre to this core-challenged drama.
Fatally, even the music, the backbone of the dramatic tension, is not very classy. The voice used for the hero doesn’t match his speaking voice. These are among the more solvable problems of the wobbly drama. A bigger problem arises when our repressed Radhe rebels by turning into a pop performer wearing a tacky wannabe-Batman mask so that the Guruji back home won’t recognise him. Maskman, yes that’s Radhe’s alias as a pop sensation, is a winner. This series is not.
With due respects, Guruji needs to be whacked. As played by the indomitable Naseeruddin
The series peddles age-old prejudices and ‘cultural’ values as yardsticks of ‘
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For me the saving grace were the performances by Sheeba Chadha and Kunal