Set in the underbelly of Mumbai, between the infamous by-lanes where ‘Greed is a Culture’ and ‘Deceit becomes a Compulsion’.
The film revolves around gangs of Mumbai who have embraced pickpocketing as an art
and a means of earning a livelihood. They use their intelligence as a canvas and their spontaneity as a brush to survive in this dangerous profession.
‘Bhindi Baazaar Inc.’ is the story of a pawn and his calculated moves to reach the other end of the chessboard. Revolving around vicious crime syndicates, the film starts with a game of chess being played between two characters; ‘Shroff’ and ‘Darzi’. It highlights the ambitious and planned moves of a pawn to reach the other end of the board. Their every move in the game correlates with life in the real world and how people are used or killed as the game progresses.
The story is based on the quest of a small time pickpocket ‘Fateh’ and his ambitions to become a MAMU (local area don).
The screenplay underlines the gritty politics, feared hierarchy, unspoken rules, authoritative commands, shrewd intelligence, crafty wit and cold blooded betrayals, within the business.
MAMU (Local area don): The white Vazir. Mamu, aged 45, is shrewd, intelligent, and the head of pickpockets for the area Byculla to Worli Sea face. A man of few words, he always believes in, “Never starting a fight but always finishing it.”
FATEH: A white Pawn, swift, spontaneous, ambitious. Next in line to be Mamu but his ambitions overcome his patience.
DARZI: Another white Pawn, smart, handsome man. There seems no specific why he is a pickpocket. Is always in awe of Fateh. One day wants to become like him.
BANO: The white Bishop. She is a little older than her husband (Mamu). The eldest of her 17 siblings, she has gone through cut throat competition even to eat a meal. Else she would have to remain hungry.
PANDEY: The black Vazir. Corrupt, does all things which are illegal. Arch rivals with Mamu. Always has had a vengeance and jealousy for Mamu. He has a small middle class area to rule and pickpocket.
KANJRI: Another white Pawn, also a pickpocket, Kanjri loves Fateh. Though she continuously expresses her love for him, Fateh is never interested in her.
SHABANA: Black Bishop, Bano’s sister, she has Mamu trapped by her charm. Fateh and Sankat too have fallen for her. All the three men dance to the tune of her beauty.
SIMRAN: The character who is not on the chessboard. The simple girl next door, she is a lovely looking girl who hails from a middleclass family. Darzi is infatuated by her and she by him. However, she does not know that he is a pickpocket.
SHROFF: The big shot, top on the hierarchy list, who holds a position in several businesses and resides in the Posh Malabar Hill area. He has risen from a mere Pickpocket to Mamu and now he is at a position where he can control Mamu. He has seen it all and done it all. He knows what it takes to be the Mamu and he truly can recognize a Pawn becoming a Vazir, his Vazir. Through the game of Chess he tests Darzi, his moves and thus his capabilities to be a MAMU…
JOHN: John is a Narcotics officer by profession. In the game of chess he represents the white horse. Being involved in the major shoot out/killings in the film, he plays a special role in the development of the plot of the film.
Ankush Bhatt – Director (Bhindi Baazaar Inc.)
THE ONLY WAY TO GET SMART IS TO PLAY A SMARTER OPPONENT.
Bhindi Baazaar Inc. is about how in the game of chess, a mere pawn uses strategy and cunning wit to survive and reach the other end of the board, thus becoming a Wazir (Queen).
The film is very interestingly set with the backdrop of pickpocketing as a profession. Pickpocketing to me is more heroic to than a gangster killing someone with a gun. I find it very fascinating that a person is able to flick a purse in the midst of hundreds of people.Once the backdrop was decided, we needed an environment for the characters to reside in. That’s how Bhindi Baazaar came in. This area to the north of Crawford market has a history of over 150 years. The buildings here have a very peculiar grandeur which adds to the beauty of the location.
There are many interesting aspects to this film. To begin with, we shot the film on an Academic Format rather than the regular Anamorphic Cinemascope format. This we did to capture the complete splendour of Bhindi Baazaar. The majority of the film is shot hand held.
The thought of having chess as the medium of moving the screenplay ahead excited me and the writer a lot. But we came to a standstill when we realised that all characters in the film were in one group. And that never happens in chess. You can’t have the white killing the white. So we had to rework the entire script to make the white pawn manipulate the black to kill its own team mate. It’s twisted.
The film encompasses over 260 scenes and the travel span of the characters in the film ranges to 30yrs each. The cast is so apt that when you finish viewing the film, you feel the script was written keeping the actors in mind but it's the other way around. The actors loved the script so much, that they went out of their way to portray themselves how I had visualised.
The film was shot in over 35 days. Of which, 22 days were spent shooting in the densely populated Bhindi Baazaar. While the rest, in the niche locals like Colaba, Cuffe Parade, Malabar Hill and Worli. It is never easy to shoot outdoors as the crowd would be more eager to see their favourite film stars. There was an instance where in the flow of shooting we entered restricted premises. That day the entire unit was put behind bars.
The other specialty to the project was that the producer Karan Arora who’s aged 36 was the eldest of us all. His no comprising attitude and immense faith in the young and somewhat less experienced crew motivated us all. It helped us all outperform our own expectations and as a result, Bhindi Baazaar Inc. is the talk of the town.
Overall, it was an overwhelming experience for me as a first time director. It was a film where the producer had faith in the project; the actors and technicians had faith in my vision and went completely out of their way to enhance every minute detail of the script. What more can a director ask for. I sincerely thank everyone for making Bhindi Baazaar Inc. far better than anyone had ever imagined.
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