Deb Medhekar’s Bioscopewala is a modern retelling of a classic short story written by Rabindranath Tagore. It's an ambitious set-up no doubt, trying to recreate the innocence of the original Kabuliwala, but with the help of a deftly written screenplay and exuberant performances, Bioscopewala manages to create its own magic.
One of the film’s greatest strengths is its seamless rendition of the 19th century period drama to the present times. A cinema hall owner in Afghanistan, Rehmat Khan (Danny Denzongpa) arrives in Calcutta with the scars of the Taliban atrocities still fresh in his mind. Leaving his family and beloved daughter in a country he can no longer call home, ravaged by war and fear, he naturally takes a fondness for young Minnie as he comes with his bioscope and is welcomed by her amiable chatter.
His bioscope earns him not just the sobriquet of Bioscopewala but is also his refuge as he tries to piece together his life away from his daughter.
The screenplay by Sunil Doshi and Radhika Anand let out the details slowly. A grown up Minnie (Geetanjali Thapa) tries to regain what she lost. As she manoeuvres her way through the emotional labyrinth, Minnie finds herself on the threshold of a journey of self-discovery that brings in its wake many memories and stories.
It is this aching nostalgia for a world where love and humanity transcends borders and bigotry that tugs at our heartstrings.
Danny Denzongpa is the principal lure and as Bioscopewala is never less than convincing. He mines the experience and weariness on his face to create a compelling character.
Geetanjali Thapa is also exquisite as the estranged daughter trying to come to terms with her loss and treasure a filial bond that to a large extent shaped the woman she is now. With a solid ensemble cast that has Adil Hussain, Brijendra Kala Tisca Chopra and Ekavali Khanna, Bioscopewala manages to evoke an authentic sense of displacement.
3.5 quints out of 5.