Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Mumbai Meri Jaan

Rating : 8/10
Running Time : 142 Minutes
Release Date : 22nd August ‘08
Director : Nishikant Kamat ; Writer : Yogesh Vinayak Joshi; Music : Sameer Phaterpekar
Starring : Madhavan, Kay Kay Menon, Irfaan Khan, Paresh Rawal, Soha Ali Khan

Till the interval, I was wondering what this movie was about. I know it was about Mumbai and the aftermath to the 7 bomb blasts in the local trains in July, 2006 but I couldn’t see the point of the film. And then in the second half, they masterfully brought it together, each sub-plot by sub-plot, thread by thread and stitched it up nicely.

They’ve chosen not to focus on the blasts themselves or who was behind them or the police help that was late or the government apathy that followed but rather on a few human sub-plots which drive home some points quite nicely, without getting too heavy. And some nice Mumbaiyya humour ensures that watching never becomes a drag, there are enough chuckles to lighten the mood and keep you hooked.

The sub-plots are

Soha Ali Khan plays a TV journalist (if you can call them that. Having met quite a few now, I have nothing but contempt for most of them and their sheer vaccuousness. They can primp and preen but rarely provide any insights into their subject matter unlike some of their print counterparts. End of tirade, sorry for that...). Soha, like others of her ilk, specializes in being intrusive, asking next of kin ‘how are you feeling’ when they’ve just been bereaved (there was a nice take on this habit even in Dhoop). She also is out there, covering the event after the blasts when they realize her fiancĂ©e is missing. And then, suddenly, Soha realizes what its like to be on the other side of a sensationalized news story.

Paresh Rawal, in a performance which shows us yet again what this fine actor is capable of, plays an about-to-retire, weary, wordly wise cop, full of soft jokes, snappy one-liners, the man who’s seen it all. He also tries to take under his wing an idealistic, intense new recruit (well played by Vijay Maurya)who's questions make Paresh re-think a bit.

Kay Kay plays a man who’s not doing that well – has a computer business but doesn’t really have any orders. Aided partly by the blasts and partly by his being down and out, he starts to develop a thing against Muslims and begins to suspect the ones he sees at the chai shop he frequents with his friends. Even goes to one’s house and follows another on a motorbike suspecting them of having a hand in the blasts. And he refuses to take business orders from another Muslim he meets. And then we have a meeting between Paresh Rawal and himself in a police van, in a scene which for me was one of the highlights of the film.

Madhavan plays one of the ‘patriotic’ Indian young execs, the type who refuses jobs abroad, who lectures the vegetable vendors not to use plastic bags, who refuse to buy a car as trains are more convenient. And then he is on one of the ‘blast’ trains and escapes harm narrowly, while a friend gets disabled. This shakes him in more ways than one, as he begins to question whether he made a mistake by not looking westwards. He can’t travel by train anymore. He becomes withdrawn, a bit shell-shocked. Until one of his friends comes over from the USA and they have a frank discussion.

Irrfan’s character uses the blasts to start making hoax bomb calls to get even with mall owners who, in his perception, had treated him wrongly. Until something happens which makes him realize the error of his ways. This character is probably the weakest sub-plot.

Whats nice is how the director / writer / editor let each sub-plot be and don’t forcefully try to link them, but let each one ever so gently make a different point, show us another facet of the aftermath. Also, by skilful editing and flitting back and forth between the sub-plots, they ensure the pace is maintained, interest sustained and the jokes ensure nothing gets too heavy. There are a few scenes of gore, showing the blood, the limbs and the horror of the blasts close-up. But not in a sensationalist way and the abiding thought when you walk out of the film is one of peace, as if all is right with the world. And that above all, we must be happy to be alive and well in the miracle called India. And that’s a sentiment, as someone who's happy to be back here, I can’t really disagree with.


rhythm fadia-maniar said...

nice to read your review.....i was hoping u wud write good review...i saw it today...me too liked it...u have written this particular review well...i dont think i am going to be able to do justice to this movie in my review blog...

Udayan Dasgupta said...

while your bollywood blog is thriving ... you seem to have given up on your "comingtoindia" blog which i'd love to read much more of !!!

Vikas said...

brilliant story, masterful execution, fantastic acting and ofcourse a stupendious review !

not a movie for the light hearted though.. i needed a couple of beers to let it sink in...mind you.. carlsberg !! :)