Bonus was a complete surprise package for me. I discovered this film during Covid-19 house arrest when I was looking for something that we (the family) can watch together. Since my Mom would have enjoyed a Marathi film more than a web series or a Bollywood film, we zeroed down on Bonus for Pooja Sawant. This somewhat familiar and a lot unfamiliar film was sitting in a corner of Amazon Prime Video waiting to be found.
Though we started watching this film for Pooja Sawant, it was Gashmeer Mahajani who won our hearts. The actor has delivered a subtle and balanced performance that keeps you wanting to watch more of this character’s journey. I am not sure if any other Marathi actor would have been able to pull it off so nicely. The industry has finest of actors but some characters demand a lot more than just your dedication – they demand devotion. And that can be seen in Gashmeer’s portrayal of Aditya.
As I always say, simple characters are more difficult to play as these roles demand you to be yourself yet become the character. Confused? Then you should watch Gashmeer actually do it in Bonus. If you watch his interviews and then watch this film, you will feel like he is just being himself but when it comes to the character, Aditya and the transformation that this guy goes through in the story – Gashmeer brings it to life on-screen in an absolutely smooth and flawless manner. Within no time, he becomes Aditya.
And that, my friend, is the magic of a good performance.
WHAT IS THIS MARATHI FILM BONUS ALL ABOUT?
Bonus is a story of a challenge that Aditya’s grandfather unexpectedly throws his way. Why?
We all have seen what happens to the companies when the ownership is transferred from the founder to his/her heir. The younger generation usually either starts restructuring or taking financial decisions that make the employees unhappy which eventually results into resignations. While sometimes the company survives even after losing its core team; most of the time, it suffers massive losses.
Work culture is a hot topic today but once upon a time, it was usual business for corporates. Employees were the Management’s priority, clients came second. Bonus tells a similar story where Aditya is opposing his grandfather’s decision to announce bonus for the employees. Born with a silver spoon in the mouth, he doesn’t even know that the life he is living is that of luxury. Aditya believes that if the staff is financially not sound, it is because they might have failed to take right decisions at the right time in life and that they should have worked harder. The company cannot take everyone’s responsibility. And what the employees do for the company is their duty for which they deserve no rewards.
To make Aditya understand how difficult life can be and how small rewards mean a lot for the employees who give their life to build companies that do not belong to them, the grandfather challenges the protagonist to lead a simple life for a month. With Rs 10K in his pocket, he comes to Mumbai from Nashik and starts looking for a house. With a budget of Rs 5K, the expectations he has of the house tells us a lot about the life he has been leading till now. The house he is shown by the real estate agent while accommodating most of his expectations of a house makes you laugh, but that is the reality of Mumbai. You cannot escape it.
As the days pass and he struggles to find a job and live a decent life in Mumbai, what he learns about life in 30 days is a lesson for all of us. The people he meet on this journey, their stories, their way of living makes you question a lot of things. But you find the answers as well. What I loved the most about Bonus is how Saurabh Bhave, the writer and director of the film, didn’t give it a philosophical twist, keeping the storytelling simple, sober, and entertaining.
There is absolutely no drama – only a story told well, really well. It feels like people are living their lives, one day at a time, and you are watching them do it with no complaints or regrets, from afar.
It’s that simple… and beautiful!
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Streaming On: Amazon Prime Video