A Musical Affair: A Review Of Bandish Bandits
The sublime songs are the saving grace of the otherwise terrible Bandish Bandits
Bandish Bandits is a 10-episode saga of a musical family, their prodigally musical son, his forbidden and reluctant affair with pop music and every tchotchke of the great Indian soap that makes an appearance at predictable intervals.
The conscientious grandson of the impoverished head of the Jodhpur gharana meets an entitled pop star, and the tired friction between classical and pop music is immediately called to service. Every Bollywood cliché of the uncompromising classical maestro is thrown into Naseeruddin Shah’s character, coupled with a healthy dose of male toxicity. The rest of the family, meanwhile, suffers silently, scrambling to protect his fragile pride and honour.
Sheeba Chaddha and Atul Kulkarni, both spectacular actors in their own right, simply cannot save the day as new characters keep entering and exiting a story that moves only through the contrivance of crises. The lead actors, Ritwik Bhowmik and Shreya Chaudhry, on the other hand, go through their artistic journeys and passionate love affair most unconvincingly.
Luckily, the musical arc of the story is directed by the Shankar–Ehsaan–Loy trio. The second episode has a lovely Kabir rendition by Shankar Mahadevan; Pt Ajoy Chakrabarty’s rendition of Garaj Garaj and Mahadevan’s vocals in Sameer Samant’s Virah are quite delightful. Although the love affairs, the overwrought drama and artist stand-offs fail to move, the music delivers even when the story doesn’t. The ending has set the stage for a possible sequel, but so far, the music seems to be the only thing worth looking forward to.