Baba Baby O Movie : A love story that celebrates fatherhood
Baba Baby O (2022) Hoichoi Review: Windows Production, the production house founded and run by the duo of Nandita Roy and Shiboprosad Mukherjee, has been in forefront of a ‘resurgence’ in the Bengali film industry. A resurgence of cinema focusing on a social cause; presented in a shell that would be palatable to the comforting sensibilities of a Bengali family trying to enjoy their Sunday evening. Thus the films of Windows Production often become the results of catering bordering on pandering, rather than being offerings. Even in the scope of catering to their own market, vis-à-vis being fan service, there are always chances to touch upon creativity. Sadly, that is one thing these films lack heavily.For, starting from ‘Belasheshe’ to this newest venture ‘Baba Baby O’, the films presented by the duo of Nandita Roy and Shiboprosad Mukherjee had always scratched the surface in terms of their chosen social theme with utter disregard towards other aspects of filmmaking. The social commentary in these films often runs thin through a bare minimum plot with terrible dialogues and ham-fisted execution. The duo has directed most of their ventures; however recently they have started to delegate the task of direction to other directors, without compromising the ‘essence’ that their films have come to be known for. Regardless of who dons the director’s hat, the result is invariably the same.
Director Aritra Mukherjee has worked before for Windows Production in 2020’s ‘Brahma Janen Gopon Kommoti’, another social cause-driven drama. ‘Baba Baby O’, the literal English translation of the name is ‘Dad, Babies and the other’, focuses on the struggles of a single father who just wants to experience fatherhood without going through an unwanted marriage just for the sake of procreation. His choice thus diverts towards surrogacy. The film starts with that and immediately establishes the kind of backlash one could expect from a traditional Bengali, or for that matter Indian subcontinental, community.
However, as the story evolves further, one could see how the entire ‘single father’ thing gradually becomes a mere gimmick rather than a true premise. The story becomes as it was always intended to be; a common rom-com where the boy needs to overcome couple of hindrances to get to the girl. That is the case more often than not in these films. The socio-religious-economical causes are briefly introduced. Introduced. Never explored, before it quickly gets moved to the back seat for the traditional family drama it always intended to portray.
One of the major flaws of modern Bengali films, and ‘Baba Baby O’ or other films of Windows Production are not the only ones here, is the dialogues. The writers often forget that all the characters of the film cannot be a reflection of their own speaking/writing abilities. One character might be that witty; that deft at puns and quips, as the writer is. Maybe two characters if I am being generous. But almost all the characters? That is a travesty. ‘Baba Baby O’ starts similarly in terms dialogues, although it fares better as the film progresses. Especially compared to any Srijit Mukherji film.
Then there are the curious cases of sub-plots. The primary and sub-plots often interchange their positions. At one point, the ‘O’ part of ‘Baba Baby O’, that is the ‘Other’ part, becomes so dominant in the storyline that you would wonder whether the film should have been named ‘Patra ni Macchi’. As the Parsi fish delicacy becomes more of a plot device than the supposed main protagonist’s fatherhood. Then there are weird encounters with a sex maniac who repeatedly mistakes children’s toys shops with sex toys shops, something straight out of Greek Weird wave. And of course, there were some off-handed homosexuality references, mostly positive though, sprinkled as garnishing.
Jisshu Sengupta and Solanki Roy, to be honest, are not too bad at their roles as two leads. Jisshu manages to hit the right notes as the forty-something man, trying his best to lead a life of normalcy under apparently abnormal circumstances. Solanki Roy, with the character given to her, brings the best out of it. The supporting cast of Bidipta Chakraborty, Reshmi Sen, Rajat Ganguly, and Mainak Banerjee churns out efficient performances. Even Gourab Chatterjee is mostly adequate as the only source of mild irritation in the film.
In the end, it would be another fare of Nandita Roy and Shiboprosad Mukherjee that would only be enjoyed by the viewers with a proclivity for their films. The rest, not so much I would presume.
Boy meets girl, they fall in love, get married and go the family way. Haven’t we all seen similar plots in umpteen movies? What makes Baba, Baby O… different here is that it tells the story of a single father who chooses to live life on his own terms. Over the years, there have been some really great movies that have showcased the challenges and struggles of a single mother. But this film celebrates fatherhood by following the everyday struggles of a man trying to navigate problems of his love life, family and career to the best of his abilities.
Directed by Aritra Mukherjee, the film deals with the complex subject of surrogacy without getting too preachy. But that’s only a small part of the film. At the end of the day, Baba, Baby O… is the story of a man who first becomes a father and then meets the ‘O’ or the other important person in his life.
The film sees Jisshu U Sengupta as Megh Roddur, an engineer and a father to twins, and debutante Solanki Roy aka Brishti, who is the owner of a kids’ toy shop. After winning support from his parents, a 40-something bachelor Megh decides to have babies through surrogacy. But life takes a U-turn after he meets Brishti at a toy shop. When it comes to kids, Megh and Brishti are poles apart. While Megh adores children, Brishti hates them.
Performance wise, Jisshu is natural as usual and delivers his part convincingly. Solanki is sweet, but how we wish she added a little more spunk to her character. The duo’s chemistry in the film is definitely not one of its talking points. Instead, peripheral characters such as Bidipta Chakraborty as Brishti’s mother, Reshmi Sen and Rajat Ganguly as Megh’s parents Ramen and Molina Chattopadhyay and Mainak Banerjee as Megh’s best friend, Raja, genuinely manage to touch the audiences’ hearts. The screen comes alive with Rajat and Mainak’s comic timing. The scenes, where Ramen imagines Raja entering the house as Megh’s life partner or when Raja seeks inspiration from ’90s Bollywood movies and tries to assess the future of Megh and Brishti’s love story with, “Palat, palat…” is enjoyable. Gourab Chatterjee does justice to his role as Shouvik, Brishti’s fiancé. Even the babies in the film look adorable.
The music of the film by Chamok Hasan is worth a mention. The song, Ei mayabi chander raate, is not only catchy, but captures the emotional state of the protagonist quite well. As for the drawbacks, the film’s pace and the somewhat predictable storyline let us down a bit. The film drags at times and leaves scope for better editing. The dialogues lack punch.
No doubt surrogacy, as a subject, is topical. Not many are still aware of the nuances, also the way society looks at it. But its treatment seems to be a bit lack-lustre. We expected much more from the director who made his debut with an entertainer like Brahma Janen Gopon Kommoti.
However, those looking for an opportunity to catch a film in a theatre after a long time can give it a shot.
40-something Megh decides to have babies through surrogacy. His life takes a u-turn when he meets Brishti. The film tries to highlight that love can happen anywhere, anytime.
The film begins with Megh becoming a father through surrogacy to two little boys (later referred to as Potol-Posto). Due to his constant denial and disinterest in marriage, his father comes to doubt if he is gay and in a relationship with his best friend. However he reveals that his disinterest is not only due to his age but also due to rejection he faced from his former girlfriend due to his love and desire for children.
Megh goes to a toy shop to buy toys for his boys, sees Brishti scolding a man for his indecent comments. Megh, as his caring nature suggests, rescues Brishti from the ruckus, also having developed a crush on her. Through numerous encounters henceforth, he helps Brishti in various ways. It is eventually revealed that Brishti has a sour relationship with her mother due to her second marriage as she believes her mother dumped her father, while it is the vice versa. It is also revealed that she hates kids as she believes they are irrational and impractical unlike adults which breaks Megh’s heart. Enter Souvik, Brishti’s boyfriend, who plans to shift to Sydney with Brishti and sell the house and toy shop that Brishti and her mother have inherited from the latter’s second marriage. This makes Brishti’s mother furious and Brishti leaves the house with Souvik. Brishti seeks help from Megh and he finds them an apartment beside his own flat for rent. A beautiful relationship develops between Megh’s parents, Brishti and Megh’s children, whom Brishti begins to accept.
We see the constant neglect that Souvik offers in the relationship to Brishti, not being there when she needs him the most, unlike Megh, who always open heartedly tries to hear Brishti out. Brishti finds a letter in her luggage which was written by her biological father to her mother before she got married for the second time, stating that he has happily settled again and Brishti must not know of how he has dumped her. Brishti regrets not accepting her adoptive father and her mother’s marriage when her adoptive father was actually alive. She tries to contact Souvik who is out of the house, but not getting any support from him, calls Megh instead. Megh consoles her. Brishi reconciles with her mother.
Some days later, as Brishti is about to leave for sydney with souvik, her mother shows her a picture of Megh and approves him over Souvik, as he kept sending Brishti’s pictures to her mother all the while that she was away.
Brishti and Souvik have lunch at Megh’s place and Brishti leaves for sydney with a heavy heart. Megh realises how important Brishti is to him and goes to stop her when his parents motivate him, however in vain. He returns home only to find Brishti waiting for him. From here onwards the director’s open end trick works. It is shown that Megh imagines himself having a conversation with Brishti after entering the room. She tells him that she was always confused if Megh was her father or her lover due to his fatherly nature, hinting of the void of the fatherly love that she had always craved for. Megh assures her that she is free to love him in whatever way. Brishti says she might not be a good mother to Potol Posto but can be a good friend to them. Megh tells her that every kind of love has an affection and she is free to mould their children in any way she wants. Megh and Brishti reconcile, a happy family scene is shown, hinting at their marriage and love filled life with a sense of freedom ahead. But the moment Megh is back and another Megh is portrayed imagining the entire thing with all the other cast ignoring Megh to be back signifies that Brishti didn’t return. The imagination of what could have happened if Brishti returns is what shown in the end. Many will be mistaken on this perspective and would consider this as a happy ending which is rather unrequited. One can think of all realistic possibilities to support the fact that Brishti is back but that won’t be a justified one both in reality and technically. This film’s climax is much more than just a happy ending. This is why this film stands out in a different way altogether. When all the 90s romantic film incidents are proven wrong in one way or the other in reality, the ending also somehow breaks the stereotype of typical happy ending of romantic films.