WBRi Movie Review: Khokababu (Bengali, 2012) Tollywood Hero DEV Sparkles with Shubhasree In A Stylized Rehash Of A Telugu Movie

A still from DEV - Shubhashree Starrer Bengali Film

Calcutta, Jan 14, 2012 (Washington Bangla Radio / Penning Creations) In 2006, a tall young man with curly hair made his acting debut in a Bengali movie, titled ‘Agnishapath’. The movie bombed badly, but the sincere performance of the debutant in this otherwise eminently forgettable flick was noted by several top directors of Tollywood. Today, the man, by common consensus, occupies the numero uno position as far as leading men in the Bengali film industry is concerned.

Trailer: Khokababu (Bengali, 2012)

Yes, we are talking about Dev (or, Deepak Adhikary, if you are a stickler for original names of stars!). After his first (and only!) unsuccessful movie, Dev has reeled off one hit after another – each of them raking in greater revenue at the box-office than its predecessor. Movies like ‘Challenge’, ‘Poran Jaay Joliya Re’ and ‘Paglu’ has already established his position as a popular matinee idol, while ‘Le Chhokka’ and ‘Dui Prithibi’ has brought him critical acclaim too.

Hence, it is only natural that each of Dev’s releases are accompanied by tremendous anticipation and buzz among his fans (of whom there are many!) in particular and average mainstream Bengali movie viewers in general. His latest release, ‘Khokababu’, is no exception. Produced under the banner of Eskay Movies, the film also brings together the successful lead pair of Dev and Shubhashree Ganguly, heightening the expectations from the movie further. Thankfully, ‘Khokababu’ proves, for most parts, to be a thoroughly entertaining fare!

The film relates the tale of ‘Khokababu’ (Dev), a free-spirited, debonair young man, without a care in the world. While the entire world around him is stuck in a rat-race, ‘Khokababu’ takes pride in having to do...well...nothing in life (!). But, fate (and movie directors!) cannot leave quintessential filmi ‘hero’-s simply waltzing through their lives, can they? ‘Khokababu’ meets the local (and much-feared!) underworld don ‘Shankar Das’ (Firdous Ahmed). Chances of our young protagonist having a career (albeit under an employer of dubious credentials!) also become brighter, with ‘Shankar Das’ hiring ‘Khokababu’ as his accountant. Cupid strikes when ‘Khokababu’ meets ‘Pooja’ (Shubhashree) and romance blossoms between the two.

The only catch in this apparently commonplace love story? ‘Pooja’ is the only sister of ‘Shankar Das’ and the latter is dead against the notion of any random guy trying to woo the young lady. In order to win over the girl of his dreams, ‘Khokababu’ must first convince ‘Shankar Das’ that he is indeed an eligible candidate for ‘Pooja’. The task is tricky and failure in his mission can bring about disastrous consequences for our leading man. Then again, in a full-on mainstream, commercial movie, can the hero fail in his romantic endeavours? No prizes for guessing the answer!

‘Khokababu’ features sincere performances from almost all members of the cast. Shubhashree (with a perfectly toned body in tow!), as Pooja, is spontaneous, vibrant and emotes well. The lady is becoming more nuanced in her performances with every passing film and, at this rate, she sure seems to be poised for bigger things in future. She would do well with a change of wardrobe though, with some of her costumes (specially in the song sequences) being distinctly tacky and garish. Firdous Ahmed, as, Shankar Das, the over-protective brother of Pooja is excellent. His portrayal of a violent and aggressive man (as befits a don!) with a kind and caring heart is praiseworthy indeed. Locket Chatterjee is reliable as always. Biplab Chattopadhyay and Dibyendu Mukherjee do proper justice to their roles. However, for the second straight film (after ‘Gosai Baganer Bhoot’), Ashish Vidyarthi is wasted.

Finally, ‘Khokababu’ is Dev’s film through and through. The actor smiles, dances, fights, romances and plays clever little mind games with ‘Shankar Das’ – all with a twinkle in his eyes and a characteristic elan. Even when the movie tends to drag slightly (in the second half), the uniformly lively performance of Dev keeps the viewers hooked right through the film. While his dialog delivery still has scope for improvement, the man more than makes up for this shortcoming with his towering screen presence. The onscreen chemistry of Dev and Subhashree (good friends in real life too) is absolutely electric. After the slightly disappointing ‘Romeo’, both of them are back in their elements in ‘Khokababu’. The duo makes the audience laugh with them, dance with them and, most importantly, root for them in their bid to get over the obstacles that stand in the way of their romance. We look forward to seeing this extremely endearing couple together in many more films in future.

‘Khokababu’, however, suffers from a slightly weak and inconsistent screenplay. While the film moves along at a nice pace in the first half, things often tend to become a tad boring after the interval. The movie, however, picks up during the climax, which is quite brilliantly shot. Director Shankariya displays a flair for smart storytelling and his eye for detail is also evident in many of the scenes of the movie. Cinematographer Shirsha Roy does a stellar job. The exotic locales of Paris are captured quite beautifully in the film. The smart and stylish dialogs of the movie add to the overall attractions of the film further. The fantastic action sequences in the film are also worth a special mention. The movie, however, could have done with crisper editing.

Dev turns singer for the first time in ‘Khokababu’. While the actor certainly does not seem to be the next Kishore Kumar in the making, he manages to display a certain degree of singing skills. Indeed, the enthusiasm and infectious energy of Dev, coupled with a set of funny lyrics, make the promotional video for the movie truly enjoyable. The self-deprecatory humour which Dev indulges in (‘ami actor...na...non-actor-i bhalo chhilam!’) is refreshing too. The rest of the songs, however, are not quite up to the mark. While the romantic ‘Amai Ador Kor’, sung quite nicely by Kunal Ganjawala, is hummable, the overall musical score is not as strong as we have come to expect from Dev-starrers. Music director Rishi could have done a better job.

‘Khokababu’ borrows heavily from the 2007 Telugu hit, ‘Dhee’. The makers, however, deserve a round of applause for changing the storyline at the right places, in order to ensure that the film appeals to the Bengali cinegoers. Thanks to the strong performances from the members of the cast, the stylish narrative, expert direction and the sheer star power of Dev, ‘Khokababu’ rises above its strictly average screenplay to become an eminently watchable and entertaining flick. Going by its fantastic opening at the box office, it certainly seems like Dev has another successful film in his kitty.

The original, and now famous, ‘khokababu’ song (from another Dev superhit, ‘Sedin Dekha Hoyechhilo’) had a refrain which went like: ‘Khoka firey na taakay/Khoka firey na taakay.’ Judging by the enormous fan-following that Dev already enjoys, this ‘Khokababu’ has no reason to look back either!

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