Directed by Diya Annapurna Ghosh, ‘Bob Biswas’ is a Hindi crime-thriller movie that revolves around Bob, who has apparently lost his memory after waking up from a coma. A mild-mannered ordinary man, Bob lives with his wife and son and works for an insurance company. However, his life turns around when he is suddenly approached by two mysterious men claiming to be his former employers.
It is revealed that Bob used to be a contractual killer and is now being asked to return to his job. Faced with a dilemma about his true identity, he must carefully balance both aspects of his life while hiding the truth of his gruesome profession from his family. This isn’t the first film where the title character comes across as an ordinary person masking a dark secret. So, if you have ever wondered whether the character of Bob Biswas is inspired by an actual person, we’ve got your back!
Is Bob Biswas a True Story?
No, ‘Bob Biswas’ is not based on a true story. However, it is a spin-off of Sujoy Ghosh’s ‘Kahaani,’ as it explores the origins of the fictional character Bob Biswas. The audiences first see Bob in the 2012 thriller as a soft-spoken bespectacled insurance agent who kills people on a contract basis as a side hustle. The original film depicts the story of Vidya Bagchi, a pregnant woman who comes to Kolkata to search for her missing husband amidst the Durga Puja celebrations. Bagchi then comes face to face with Bob Biswas, a cold-blooded assassin sent to kill her by her husband’s kidnappers.
What is unsettling about Bob is his polite and innocent demeanor that suddenly turns fearsome as he kills people without a change in expression. The duality of his nature is very well portrayed by actor Saswata Chatterjee in the original film. The audience loved the actor’s nuanced performance, as well as the signature dialogue, “Nomoshkar, Bob Biswas. Ek Minute.” (Hi, I am Bob Biswas. Just a minute.) However, the makers of ‘Bob Biswas’ decided to give a fresh spin to the storyline and cast actor Abhishek Bachchan as the notorious serial killer in the 2021 movie.
Apparently, while writing ‘Kahaani,’ Sujoy Ghosh already had the idea of exploring Bob’s character with Abhishek Bachchan in mind. However, he decided to centralize Vidya’s story at that point and revisit Bob later in another standalone film. Ghosh also said that he intended to draw references from James Bond and Don (the titular character of the Hindi films released in 1978 and 2006) to create Bob’s character and not limit the role to any particular actor.
Thus, the characteristics and mannerisms of Bob Biswas are based on the original film’s character, but the story arc is completely new. Though fictional, the character does draw from the mind of a regular man, his day-to-day routines, as well as the potential dark side of his psyche. It also delves into the fact that everyone has skeletons in their closet, and they often get caught in the struggle as they do not want the past to affect their loved ones.
Abhishek exceeded expectations in his portrayal of Bob Biswas as he perfectly depicts the moral dilemmas of the title character while maintaining the mystery. The actor gained considerable weight to look believable as a middle-aged family man, weighing about 105 kgs when filming began. In an interview in November 2021, Abhishek stated that he hadn’t even seen ‘Kahaani’ till major portions of the shoot were completed. He thus brought his own elements to the character and relied on the instructions of the script and director.
About preparing for the character, Abhishek said, “A character like Bob Biswas really interested me because he is a bundle of contradictions. He is so gentle, soft-spoken and sweet, but there is also another side. That really appealed to me. There is nothing straightforward about him.” In a way, the movie exposes the truth of society where a man must do whatever it takes – even commit crimes – to fend for his family. Even the most gentle of people can have a murderous side, being the case in many true crime incidents, and the fictional storyline does a great job of highlighting this aspect.
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