‘Bambai Meri Jaan’ Review: Avinash Tiwary Led Gangster Saga Is Almost Perfect


Certain movies and shows tend to become more than just stories meant for entertainment. They create a template, which then turns into a trend that is milked until the well runs dry. When Jaws became a hit, there were tons of aquatic movies, and its legacy is kind of being carried on by the Sharknado and Meg films. Star Wars and Star Trek began the science-fiction or science-fantasy mania, which is still being carried on by the respective franchises, and it’s a case of diminishing returns. However, no matter how many times it gets revamped, especially in India, The Godfather doesn’t lose its sheen. Be it Sarkar, the Gangs of Wasseypur duology, Nayakan, or Malik, they’ve all managed to capture the classic film’s essence while imbuing it with characters and dialogue that are relevant to the films’ settings. And after several attempts in the OTT space, it seems like Bambai Meri Jaan has managed to crack the code.

Shujaat Saudagar’s Bambai Meri Jaan, which has been written by Sameer Arora, Chaitanya Chopra, Rensil D’Silva, Abbas Dalal, and Hussain Dalal, and is based on Hussain Zaidi’s Dongri To Dubai, actually begins with the firebrand police officer Ismail Kadri. He intends to use the power of his uniform to take down the gangster, Haji, and his partners, Pathan and Bilawal. Ismail even gets to form a squad that will specifically go after these gangsters and put a stop to their businesses. But due to some bad planning and Haji’s intelligence, things go horribly sideways for Ismail, thereby putting him out of a job. With no money to feed his wife, Sakina, his three sons (Dara, Saadiq, and Ajju), and his daughter, Habiba, Ismail tries everything to get a job. Finally, he’s left with no other option but to accept Haji’s help. This influences the streetwise Dara, and he grows up with the intention of taking over Mumbai and becoming as famous as Haji. The road to that destination starts with working under Haji and ends somewhere so bloody that it forces Dara to contemplate if his hunger for power is worth it.

The writing in Bambai Meri Jaan is impeccable. Yes, I’ll admit that it’s not something new and fresh in terms of the plot. If you’ve seen one gangster film (or show), you’ve seen all of them. But it’s the authenticity of the characters that gives it the edge. The trajectories of Ismail, Dara, Saadiq, Ajju, Habiba, Sakina, Haji, Pathan, and Malik are so clear and so crisp that it makes you wish that every single web series in existence is written with this level of care. The theme of “absolute power corrupts absolutely” is evident. However, since it is grounded in a very relatable family drama, it takes on a completely different color. All of us have seen our parents fight and grow old, like Ismail and Sakina. All of us have sibling relationships like the ones between Ismail’s kids. All of us have friends we’ve grown apart from for a variety of reasons. So, you connect to it almost instantly, and then the tragedy of the narrative kicks in. I don’t know about everyone else, but I kept hoping for things to get better so that the Kadris could live a relatively violence-free life, only to see them take a completely different route due to basic human nature and the circumstances that they’re pushed into by life.

In addition to the relatability factor, Bambai Meri Jaan feels so immersive because of the dialogue writing. I can only assume that every single line uttered by the actors has been written and not improvised. I am sure everyone in the cast is great, but I don’t think they are great enough to improvise consistently for 10 episodes straight. That would be insane. So, for the time being, I am assuming it’s the work of the dialogue writers and applauding them for it. Everything from the narration to the exposition, the casual exchanges, and the heartfelt conversations feel so organic and real. Even in the moments where Haji, Dara, or Ismail pause to deliver a profound saying that underscores the themes of that particular episode, it doesn’t feel overly dramatic or cliche. The way everything is worded in the show seems like it’s coming from the lived experiences of the character who is saying it. And I think that is an incredibly difficult thing to pull off, especially when your narrative is full of recurring characters as well as characters who show up for a few minutes. So, yes, if Hussain and Abbas Dalal get nominated for some kind of “Best Dialogue Writing” award, they should be the clear winners.

Shujaat Saudagar has clearly knocked it out of the park with his direction in Bambai Meri Jaan. The worldbuilding, the costume design, the character designs, the action sequences, the editing, the VFX, the production design—it’s all brilliant. I usually skip the opening credits after watching it in the first episode. But during my 10-episode run of this web series, I didn’t skip it even once. Of course, it looks amazing, and the song playing along with it sounds instantly iconic. However, there’s something about the timing of the opening credits that keeps you from hitting the skip button. It’s like getting a breather after the impact of the first few frames of the episode and preparing for what’s about to ensue; that’s what the opening credits give you. Additionally, I love that Saudagar pays homage to a lot of filmmaking techniques from the 80s with its crash zooms and intercutting. The reason I think it’s not perfect but almost perfect is because of the lighting. It’s always bland because of the lack of proper brightness and contrast. Everything feels a little washed out and devoid of texture, which is a shame because the shot compositions are great. That said, if you can’t see anything properly, how the hell are you going to appreciate it?

Fun fact: Avinash Tiwary, Jitin Gulati, and Saurabh Sachdeva are in Bambai Meri Jaan as well as Kaala, i.e., two shows that have been released this week. Avinash is shaping up to be one of the greatest actors working in the industry right now. The effortlessness with which he vanishes into the role of Dara is fascinating to watch. It’s difficult to go toe-to-toe with Kay Kay Menon, who is channeling a little bit of Amitabh Bachchan here, but he does it, and their scenes hit really hard. The way Menon portrays this husk of a man is riveting. Kritika Kamra is amazing, especially when she switches things up and goes into gangster mode. Nivedita Bhattacharya is the most underrated player on the pitch because she’s so subtle. The same can be said about Ajju, who doesn’t get a lot of the limelight, but he shines whenever he is in the frame. I think it’ll be a compliment to say that Jitin Gulati is so much like James Caan. His anger, frustration, and need for attention are palpable. Vivan Bhatena has a dominating physical presence, but he smartly balances it with his character’s empathy. Shiv Panditt is so good as an opportunistic police officer that I wish there was more of him. Saurabh Sachdeva, Nawab Shah, Sunil Palwal, and Dinesh Prabhakar play off each other so well. And all of the aforementioned names are just the tip of the iceberg. Every single actor, even the child actors, is superb. So, do take a moment to admire them while watching the show.

In conclusion, Bambai Meri Jaan is one of the best shows of the year. The way it ruminates about the nature of violence by centering it around a simple family is amazing. The writing, especially the dialogues, is fantastic. The actors are all great. It is paced like a freight train. You won’t feel the 10 hours go by at all. It has copious amounts of violence, with two scenes being particularly triggering. So, if you can stomach that, as well as the washed-out look of the show, I think you are in for a wildly enjoyable and heartbreaking ride. It’s a must-watch for fans of the crime thriller or gangster subgenres as well as for those who have been looking forward to a Godfather-esque show set in India. With all that said, what you’ve just read is my opinion and my opinion only. Please feel free to watch Bambai Meri Jaan on Prime Video, form your own opinion, and share your thoughts with us.

Notify of

1 Comment
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Pramit Chatterjee
Pramit Chatterjee
Pramit loves to write about movies, television shows, short films, and basically anything that emerges from the world of entertainment. He occasionally talks to people, and judges them on the basis of their love for Edgar Wright, Ryan Gosling, Keanu Reeves, and the best television series ever made, Dark.

Must Read

DMT Guide

More Like This