The Hindi web series Bambai Meri Jaan is directed by Shujaat Saudagar and stars Kay Kay Menon, Avinash Tiwary, Kritika Kamra, Nivedita Bhattacharya, Amyra Dastur, Jitin Gulati, Saurabh Sachdeva, Vivan Bhatena, and Aditya Rawal.
Where can you watch Bambai Meri Jaan in the UAE?
Bambai Meri Jaan is now available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.
Bambai Meri Jaan review
+ Kay Kay Menon and Avinash Tiwary
+ Emotional underpinnings
+ Recreation of the 60s-70s on point
– Generic gangster story
– Tad long
The ace director Maniratnam had a particular process whenever he made movies on real-life personalities. He would make them fictional. In that, the characters would be different, only slightly. The names would be tweaked. Some insignificant events would be added or changed to make it fit the narrative. Such an approach gave him some creative leeway and kept potential problems at bay.
Such an approach helped Maniratnam to attempt films on the MGR and Karunanidhi rivalry (Iruvar in 1997) and Dhirubhai Ambani (Guru in 2007). Some may see this as an intellectually dishonest way to approach a subject. But on the other hand, it is equally a fact that Indians are notoriously touchy and don’t take too kindly to faithful biographical accounts.
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Maniratnam’s creative stratagem has perhaps inspired the Hindi web series Bambai Meri Jaan makers. They have made an emotional 10-episode series on the rise of the dreaded Don Dawood Ibrahim, the notorious D, from the late 60s in Mumbai, or to be correct, Bambai.
It is easy to understand why the director Shujaat Saudagar chose this narration path where Dawood’s identity is camouflaged as Dara. It is impossible to make a straight series on such a controversial figure like Dawood, especially in the current milieu in India. Though the makers credit S Hussain Zaidi’s book Dongri to Dubai: Six Decades of the Mumbai Mafia as the source material, they don’t come right out and say that this is Dawood’s story.
While we can empathize with the makers, what is undeniable is that this approach has robbed the series of potential attractions. Sans the interesting bait that this is Dawood’s story, the series comes across as a generic gangster story located in the underbelly of Mumbai, the likes of which we have seen aplenty.
But the director does the smart thing of trying to get up close and personal with the rise of Dawood, sorry Dara. The family equations with his brothers and sister. And most importantly, the frayed ties with his stentorian father, whose ramrod rigid approach is suggested to be one of the reasons for Dara to turn out the way he did.
The story begins with the city being under the control of the emerging dons like Haji Maqbool (Saurabh Sachdeva), Rajan Mudaliar (Jay Singh Rajpoot) and Azeem Pathan (Nawab Shah). They call the shots, and despite the best efforts of the cop Ismail Kadri (Kay Kay Menon), the crime leaders seem well entrenched.
Ismail is desperate, and his lack of success as a policeman casts a dark shadow on his domestic life. He becomes a hardened man with his wife Sakina (Nivedita Bhattacharya). His attitude is no different with his three sons, one of whom is Dara (Avinash Tiwary).
Darahas has a rough and ruthless streak, which could have been tempered down if the dad had been more genial. His brothers Saadiq (Jatin Gulati) and Ajju (Lakshya Kocchar) and sister Habiba (Kritika Kamra) back him, and Dara goes on the rampage.
The interpersonal relationship with the family dynamics is brought out well. The family atmosphere is fraught with tension because of the father-son friction, and this part of the series makes up for the typical gangsterism tale that it otherwise purveys. The portions of Dara trying to unseat the entrenched Haji also play out well.
There are also a gaggle of characters who make Dara tick. His love interest, Pari (Amyra Dastur), his journo acolyte Nasir (Ashwini Kumar), and the cop Malik (Shiv Pandit) prop him in the hope of keeping other crime lords under check.
As expected, Kay Kay Menon, the no-nonsense dad who does not understand flexibility, is typically good on the acting front. He plays the upright cop who cannot come to terms with the amoral ways of his aggressive son with great understanding. It is not an easy character to like, but he sells it to you compellingly.
Avinash Tiwary, with fire in his belly and blood in his hands, is full of rage. As the emerging don, he oozes the right amount of menace. Nivedita Bhattacharya is remarkably believable as his mother, who lives in a state of denial about him. Kritika Kamra, as his sister, is also impressive.
The family saves the series, even though it couldn’t save a young man from becoming a dreaded international criminal, as it were.
An engineer-turned-journalist, K Balakumar’s career began in print publications as a sports writer. That also opened doors for other journalistic avenues like films, music, finance, technology and politics, which nobody can escape in India. After 30 yrs in mainstream journalism, now a freelancer for various digital publications.