Bhonga: Loud and clear

Ambika Shaligram
Friday, 18 January 2019

BHONGA (Loudspeaker)
Language: Marathi
Director: Shivaji Lotan Patil 
Starring: Kapil Kamble, Shripad Joshi and Deepti Dhotre

Those who are clued into the widening polarisation of society, would instantly connect with the title of Shivaji Lotan Patil’s directorial — Bhonga. Do we need to be ‘awakened’ by the loud calls emanating from the loudspeaker urging the faithful to say their prayers to the almighty? The film is quick to establish the premise. 

Bhonga shows a wedding procession, complete with the baraat and dancing crowd, passing by the village mosque. And what can we expect? Religious clashes to erupt. Wrong. Lotan Patil’s Bhonga breaks this urban conditioning. We don’t really expect the village folks to be ‘liberal’ and ‘secular’, and to empathise with someone else’s faith, but the film shows how the villagers are more connected with people of different faiths, besides discussing the subject of religion with a lot of sensitivity. 

The director, who chooses to tell the story from a Muslim family’s point of view, succeeds in crafting a fresh approach to the religious debate — What is sacred, what is not? What does worship mean? 

Sadiq (Kamble), a small hotel owner, decides to move into another house, near the mosque, because his wife and sister-in-law always have shrill exchanges. Their nine-month-old baby is always cranky and after shifting to the new house, he gets all the more cranky.

It’s so because the Bangee (announcer) uses the loudspeaker to call the faithful. It’s later revealed that the baby is suffering from a medical complication, and the loud noise is aggravating his health. Sadiq and other village elders (followers of Hindu faith) try to persuade the Bangee (Joshi) to not use the loudspeaker for azaan. But Bangee warns them not to interfere with religious practises. 

Sadiq’s friends and his family try several means to convince the Bangee, but he remains unmoved. An unfortunate incident acts as a catalyst and he comprehends the true meaning of religion.

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