Here’s what critics have to say about Bhonsle starring Manoj Bajpayee, Santosh Juvekar, Ipshita Chakraborty Singh and others.
Manoj Bajpayee will win your heart in this film about hate, fear & kindness (The Print)
Bhonsle is a slow, striking film. Director Devashish Makhija takes deliberate care and precision to set the mood of the film with each shot, emphasising the depressing desolation of Bhonsle’s life, the desperation in Vilas’ and the fear in Sita and Lalu’s. Bhonsle’s grey walls close in on him as he makes his solitary roti and watery dal, with only the leak from his roof and a broken radio for company. Vilas is constantly trying to garner clout with the neighbourhood, to somehow achieve some standing in life, but is also constantly being thrown down. The cinematography by Jigmet Wangchuk is half the reason Bhonsle is such a watchable film. The other reason is Bajpayee. The actor, known for his natural talent at striking at the heart of the character (and audiences), delivers in a way that makes you realise why he belongs in a different league of actors altogether.
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Devashish Makhija’s fascinating character study is enriched by Manoj Bajpayee’s performance (Firstpost)
Most of all, Makhija’s uncanny ability to pull poetry out of the mundane bric-a-brac of life achieves its high watermark with Bhonsle. It is a film gloriously, defiantly committed to truth — the truth of living thousands of miles from home and building another one there; the truth of steadily approaching death, of indignance, anger in the face of injustice, of a manhood deprived of agency, of resignation, of things taking their time before working for you, the whimper of broken dreams, and the silence that cloaks it all in a noisy, noisy city. And then there is the truth of independent cinema. Creditably, Makhija seldom turns away from the truth or the fate that awaits the common man both in life and a truthful film. Bhonsle might even be construed as an indie rejoinder to the commercialism haunting Vilas. But that’s taking things too far. Makhija’s Bhonsle is a somber, little film with tempered ambition and a strong backbone. It is also a promise of great things to come.
Manoj Bajpayee delivers acting masterclass, film a definitive word on ‘insider-outsider’ debate (Hindustan Times)
Bhonsle is a film for our times. The visuals of migrants walking home as a country went into the lockdown with nary a care for the millions that powered its very structure are still raw. We locked ourselves inside our houses, blanketed by our privileges, leaving the ‘outsiders’ to find their way home. Bhonsle is set in a similar time in the Maximum City, when it had no place for people who helped build it. A local tough with political aspirations, Vilas (Santosh Juvekar), wants the migrants in the chawl to know that it is ‘Maratha manoos first’. The struggle plays out with Ganesh Chaturthi as the backdrop as other chawl residents – Bhonsle included – watch from the sidelines, refusing to be anything more than a face in the crowd.
Manoj Bajpayee’s film raises Maharashtra’s insider-outsider debate (DNA)
All in all, I could credit Devashish Makhija, Mirat Trivedi and Sharanya Rajgopal for writing a script which is not only relevant but much needed during this time. Even though I personally hoped there could be better justice for every issue in the film, the underline is that the issues were highlighted. The film, according to me, is a mirror which touches base with the tough life we all are living. However, if Makhija had removed some elements and focused purely on the script, mainly from the second half of the film, (even if it made for a short film), the movie could strike a chord with more audiences. Nonetheless, it was a great effort which could have been told in a better way. The movie is also likely to strike a chord with the audiences, who could find meme material in the movie.