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‘Bisi-Bisi Ice-Cream’ movie review: Arvind Sastry’s drama is a fine character study of lonely people

Aravind Iyer in ‘Bisi-Bisi Ice-Cream’
| Photo Credit: Boiled Beans Pictures/YouTube

In Arvind Sastry’s Bisi-Bisi-Ice-Cream, Arvind Iyer plays Raghava, a cab driver. He is living a lonely and gloomy life, giving the impression that he is just waiting for his death. Siri Ravikumar plays a high-end escort. Her silence conveys her immense sorrow, and she has nobody for emotional support.

Arvind’s film identifies itself as a slow-burn thriller, but at heart, it’s a character study of companionless people. For most of the first half, the director is in no hurry to move the plot forward. By only showing his central characters go through their motions, he wants to establish how there is no escape from mundaneness for people who work to make ends meet. 

Bisi-Bisi Ice-Cream (Kannada)

Director: Arvind Sastry

Cast: Aravind Iyer, Siri Ravikumar, Gopalakrishna Deshpande, Shanil Guru

Runtime: 132 minutes

Storyline: A mysterious woman walks into the life of a depressed, heartbroken cab driver. She is both a cure for his miseries and an inception to many adventures

The director is focused on world-building, as he takes you through the city’s underbelly apart from showcasing the day-to-day haunts of strugglers, like petty shops and roadside eateries. Raghava and Siri’s character (who has no name in the film) live in tiny rooms. With barely any space to move around, they go to the terrace to break free from the suffocation and get some solace.

Nakul Abhayankar’s music acts as a character in the film. Arvind uses songs instead of dialogues to enhance the atmospheric tone, and the montage songs, with sharp lyrics, describe the many shades of the lead characters. Some melodious numbers, showing the quiet moments of Raghava and Siri’s character, adds charm to the narrative which is further propelled by Enosh Olivera’s stylised cinematography. 

The film is helped by the performances of the lead actors, with Aravind Iyer being the stand-out actor. In the second half, he is brilliant as a man excited by a glimmer of hope after almost giving up on life. Gopalakrishna Desphande plays a pimp who also considers himself a “sophisticated businessman” by running a small brothel. The three characters get caught in a tangle, leading to a series of adventures. 

Gopalakrishna Deshpande’s character adds zing to the film at the right time. With a comical, over-the-top performance, he strikes again, showing why he is one of the most dependable character artistes in Kannada cinema today.

It’s impressive to spin a neo-noir tale with just three characters. Arvind splits the film into chapters, and he slowly builds up things, promising a strong finale. And that’s why the climax is a letdown. The abrupt end feels impractical, considering how the story was realistically told till the last act. The film also leaves some questions regarding the background of the lead characters unanswered.

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In his previous two films —  Kahi and Alidu Ulidavaru — Arvind made a clever thriller by joining the dots nicely. Bisi-Bisi Ice-Cream is more about form than substance, and the storytelling trumps the script. You don’t complain because even if it begins slowly, the movie draws you in and keeps you interested in the proceedings.

Bisi-Bisi Ice-Cream is currently running in theatres

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