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Mulk Movie Review: It Is A Must For Every Indian!

Subhash K . Jha



Mulk Movie Review: It Is A Must For Every Indian!


Starring Rishi Kapoor, Tapsee Pannu, Manoj Pahwa, Prateik Babbar, Ashutosh Rana, Rajat Kapoor

Directed by Anubhav Sinha

Rating: *****(5 stars)

Whose land is it anyway? At a time when the Indian Muslim finds himself isolated like never before, Anubhav Sinha’s Mulk serves as a jolting reminder of how far into the darkest recesses of distrust and animosity, terrorism has taken the blame game.

First of all, it is very hard to believe that Sinha whose earlier credits include fluff stuff like Tum Bin and Ra.One, has actually created this modern political masterpiece which attempts very successfully to humanize a community that has been demonized by some negative elements. And yet Mulk doesn’t take sides, doesn’t make the Indian Muslim community a portrait of injured innocence.

What it does do—and full-marks to Anubhav Sinha for writing a script that doesn’t bend backward to humanize the community under siege—is to lay bare the layers of deception that mars a truly fruitful dialogue between sane rational elements in both the Hindu and Muslim community.

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When the son (Prateik Babbar) from a Muslim family in the dense bylanes of Varanasi decides to become a so-called jihadi, the ramifications on his family are deep and wounding.

It is in portraying the family’s anguish that Anubhav emerges with cinema that’s masterly and timely. There comes a time in the taut narrative when the patriarch of the family is asked to choose between home and safety. Rishi Kapoor making that resolute choice reminded me of Balraj Sahni in Garam Hawa.

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Kapoor has shaped up into that rare actor who can do anything effortlessly. His portrayal of Murad Ali Mohammad is clenched and compelling. He brings to the character an empathy that never serenades self pity. But my favorite performances in the film are by Manoj Pahwa as Rishi Kapoor’s hounded brother and Rajat Kapoor as a Muslim anti-terror police officer who has turned against his own community to cleanse its reputation.

Pahwa as the terror-accused father of a jihadi, makes your heart melt with compassion. In the best-written sequence of the film, he tells his brother why he always tried to be a good sibling, and never failed to fall short.

Also brilliant is the ever-capable Kumud Mishra as the judge presiding over a case that in many ways, changes the way we look at terror-accused families, not to mention court proceedings in our films. Ashutosh Rana and Tapsee Pannu are absolutely brilliant as the prosecutor and defence lawyer. And when Tapase takes over the climactic courtroom finale questioning why our society has polarized into “them” and “us”, she proves herself one of the strongest contemporary female actors today.

Some moments in this thought-process reforming drama made me break into goosebumps. When the terrorist-son (Prateik Babbar)’s body is brought home, we hear sounds of mothered anguish and panic, as the camera moves throught the family home prowling in pursuit of answers to questions that lie too deep for tears.

I am not surprised that Evan Mulligan’s camera has captured the splintered cultural conundrum of Varanasi like never before. Mulk is a work that won’t settle for the status quo. It forces us to think and reconsider our value system at a time when cows are valued more than human lives.

Anubhav Sinha prefers to say “boo” instead of “moo”.

Also Read: Skyscraper Movie Review: Puts You Off High rise Buildings

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Shah Rukh Khan To Produce Films With Aanand Rai

Subhash K . Jha



After collaborating over several out-of-the-box films with Anurag Kashyap  filmmaker Aanand Rai has decided to become production partners with Shah Rukh Khan.

The two will be collaborating over several unusual films for the next five years .

 Says a source close to the devlopment , ” while directing Shah Rukh in Zero Aanand Rai became very close to Shah Rukh.Now Anand and Shah Rukh are ready to put their heads together for a slew of projects that needs not star Shah Rukh or be directed by Anand .Shah Rukh loves the kind of films that Aanand has been producing ,like Newton, Mukkabaaz , Shubh Mangal Savdhan and Manmarziyan.It is time to take their partnership to another level”.

In the meanwhile Aanand Rai’s  directorial venture  Zero with  Shah Rukh Khan



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Janhvi Kapoor To Be Paired With Varun Dhawan In Rannbhoomi?

Subhash K . Jha



When  it comes  to producer  Karan Johar, Alia Bhatt is irreplaceable . But is Alia Bhatt no  more that  blue-eyed girl of director Shashank Khaitan?

If  whispers  doing the rounds in the corridors  of Dharma Productions is to be believed, Johar’s inhouse  director Shashank Khaitan who directed two hit films Humpty Sharma  Ki Dulhaniya and Badrinath  Ki Dulhaniya with Varun and Alia is  in  the lead, is in two minds  about which actress  to cast in his lavish period film Rannbhoomi.

A source  in the  know says, “Varun has been finalized  long back. But if  you see , there’s no leading lady in Rannbhoomi as yet. That’s because Shashank has to make  up his mind whether  to cast his favourite Alia or his new favourite Janhvi Kapoor whom  he  directed  to stardom in  Dhadak.”

As  things stand at the moment,we  hear  Janhvi  has the  upper hand.  Not that  Alia is going to be crying over lost opportunities. She is  at  the moment the most sought-after actress in Bollywood, Shashank  or no Shashank.

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Manto Movie Review: Nawaz’s Manto Echoes Guru Dutt’s Pyaasa

Subhash K . Jha




Starring: Nawazuddin  Siddiqui, Rasika Duggal,Tahir Raj Bhasin.

Star **** ½(4 and a  half stars)

Jaane wohkaise log the jinke pyar ko pyar mila….Echoing  the disenchantment  of  a post-Nehruvian  generation trapped between Partition  and  modernization, Guru Dutt in Pyaasa epitomized  the poet’s disenchanment with a  world he  never asked for.Yeh duniya agar mil bhi jaye toh kya hai?

 Saadat Haasan Manto was  poet posing as a prose writer. He thought and  responded  to social stimuli  like  a true poet,  When his  best friend Shyam(the matinee idol  of  the  1940s who died young after falling off a  horse) blurts  out that during the post-Partition communal  riots he would have killed any Muslim , including Manto, Manto knew  it was time to quit India.

 When  Nandita Das’s Saadat Haasan Manto leaves Mumbai for Lahore,the  film and the  protagonist falls into a melanlcholicmeditative mood mourning the passing of an era when the country and  its people  were  split into two messy halves.

Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s  Manto taps into  every  feeling and mood  of his complex erudite  character. The actor doesn’t miss a single  heartbeat of  his character. Nawaz takes proprietorial  control of  Manto , not letting  go of his grip over the  obstinate genius’ glorious grammar of inspired rebellion. It  is as though Nawaz was  destined  to play Manto from  the day  they both were born. The literary genius and the actor.

Nandita Das shoots  Manto’s  life and  writings as  vignettes of invaluable splendour.We are provided insightful glimpses into the  man’s private  life  with a supportive but disenchanted wife (played with sensitivity and affection  by Rasika Duggal) trying hard  to cope with the financial  constraints ,  trying to wrap her spousal instincts  around the mind of man who was not only ahead of his times,  but also not afraid of defying norms even if it meant taking on the  law and  the government.

Nandita Das’s colour palate  for the 1940s is a striking  deep  rich  selection of carefully chosen colours that range from the sepia of nostalgia  to the crimson of the  blood that flows when two communities  decide they abhor one another enough to embrace barbarism.

 Rita Ghosh’s production design and Kartik Vijay’s  cinematography are  impeccably understated.Nandita has a  propensity for played-down  periodicity. She barely resorts  to using the songs of the era(the oldest and simplest cinematic trick to recreate the era).And the one time that Jaddab Bai(played unremarkably by Ila Arun) bursts  into a song at a  party, we feel the flavour and flair  of the  times  more in the reaction of the guests  than the  song or singer.

 The vibrancy and vitality  of Mumbai in  the 1940s comes alive more through the  characters’ zest for seizing day than through strained attempts at getting the period details right.Not a single shot of an old gramophone playing 78 rpm  records ! Miracle!!  Nandita Das invests in her characters . They bring alive  the theme and the protagonist’s deepest thoughts and flaws with a fluency that  is impressively underplayed and quietly consistent.

The film has some of the  most inspired casting I’ve seen in  recent times. Rasika Duggal, of course as Manto’s wife. She is always  a delight to watch. But also Tahir Raj Bhasin as   the matinee idol Shyam. Bhasin plays  the  superstar with such arresting elan, why don’t we see more of this  actor? And how on  earth did the  director think  of Bhanu Uday Singh as the actor par excellence Ashok Kumar?  Dadamoni has one disarming  moment when potential Muslim rioters recognize him and give him right of way.

Remarkably  a slew  of  brilliant actors  make a lasting impression in  fleeting appearance: Rishi Kapoor as an abominably lecherous  producer, Paresh Rawal as a slimy  pimp,  Tillotama Shome as tired prostitute(who just wants to sleep alone for a change), Divya Dutta as  a  fiercely jealous Punjabi wife whose  husband  has come home after raping a corpse(the inspiration for Manto’s story Thanda Gost) and  most surprising  of all,  writer Javed Akhtar(making his acting debut) as poet and educationist Ali Abid Ali who exonerates Manto of obscenity charges in the courtroom.

These actors collectively sparkling  in this archingly defiant  film ,  reminded of a line in Orson Welles’ Citizen  Kane where  a character says he once saw a woman on the ocean when their boats crossed. “Not a day has passed when  I haven’t thought  of her.”

These  actors in Manto  create  equally strong impressions even in  a fleeting moment, like the when Purab Kohli smiles at  a girl-child whom three men intend  to  rape later on.  But God  has other plans.And who knows this better than Manto?

As played by Nawazuddin ,Manto is a magnificent mix of suppressed rage and expressed bitterness. The  authority with which he articulates lines from Manto’s stories  made me wonder if Manto wrote  his stories so that one day an actor of Nawazuddin’s skills   would own them.Indeed the director with her  astute yet subtle eye  for historical  and ‘period’ detail couldn’t have  hoped  for a better actor to play Manto.

Nandita makes sure Nawaz gets  into the skin  of  the character. This is an invasion  of  Manto’s private world but an exceedingly affectionate and reverent  invasion.

 Manto  is a work of many virtues and minor vices. On the negative side, the Lahore portions in the second-half lack the pulsating seductiveness of  the Mumbai episode where the beau monde  comes alive in scattered  montages of teasing hedonism  .

Maybe by the time  he was forced to migrate to  Lahore, Manto’s heart was just not in it.

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