IQR 2013 – The Reading Challenge

I have decided to sign up for the IQR reading challenge. Through blogadda, booklovers, etc. I have been getting access to some Indian authors’ work, which I might have skipped earlier. Despite my initial complaints, the quality and quantity are both improving with each passing day.

So, the target’s going to be,…. well.. I guess about 12 books by Indian authors this year. If I do more, good for the writers 😉

Review: Matru Ki Bijli Ka Mandola. Mera Man Nahi Dola

The movie reminded me of Harishankar Parsai’s brand of satire. Or, Orwellian Animal Farm. Where probably every prop symbolizes something bigger, something political. But that and Pankaj Kapoor are the only two saving points of the movie.

The movie is a classical proletariat vs. bourgeoisie setup, with significant doses of leftist sentiments, political buffoonery, and enough set pieces to navigate from one subtle comment to another. The everyday references galore. The dual personalities within most – one that does what seems to be “success” and the other that lives to uproot it all to find true happiness (especially after being a few drinks down). The JNU educated leftist who’d use Mao as the symbol for his revolution, the red color for his flag and messages. The commentary on media that talks about UFO sightings and highlights “pet mein murge baang de rahe the” kind of breaking news journalism, the daaru brand, the pink buffalo, the money taken for education loan from the village biggie, the Zulu tribe slaves who don’t realize they are slaves, and so on. MKBKM’s pink buffalo reminded me of the Kala Bandar of Delhi 6. A prop with great possibilities. And this time, it’s executed much better than the Kala Bandar. Vishal continues to project his love for Shakespeare with lines from Macbeth thrown in for good measure. Fair is foul and foul is fair! That being said, you can see general doses of smartness thrown, rather wasted, on this movie.

Because, in short, the movie is extremely slow and patchy in its execution. The songs end up being troublesome the way they pop up. That’s one that that you wouldn’t have blamed Vishal Bharadwaj for in his earlier movies. While Khamakha, Badal Utheya are brilliant vishal-ish composition, Oye Boy Charlie has the raat ke dhai baje feel. Vishal’s music, brilliant though, is becoming predictably formulaic. You can draw parallels between Kaminey and MKBKM track by track. Special mention for Prem Dehati’s rustic voice must be made.

The thing that raises this movie from being a well below average affair is Pankaj Kapoor. He lights up every frame that he’s present in. It’s a shame we don’t see him in more roles. This gentleman is worth more than half the actors in the industry. Maybe more. If there’s one reason why you may come out of the theater not feeling bad, it will be Pankaj Kapoor.

Vishal’s movies have had some amazing moments in the past. There are these moments where two of the actors get to show the world how brilliant they are. Even Shahid Kapoor managed to fool us. Remember “hum mein gooda hai” or the Konkona-Saif scene from Omkara. Or the tiny little scenes in Maqbool – miya pyaas nahi lagti tumhe aajkal kinds. And Vishal has set the bar on those critical relationship moments so high, that anything that tends to take the essence away, seems like that leering paunchy desi on a south goa beach. In this movie, you can blame it on Imran and Anushka.

Both of them have upped their game considerably. But Anushka is not a good serious/troubled weeper. She cannot get the nuance of that father-daughter moment before the wedding. And not surprisingly, Pankaj Kapoor nails that scene without saying much.
Shabana Azmi is good, goes without saying. And wonderfully self-deprecating. The others are adequate. The eunuch in the movie is another standout act, and the little blind kid.

In summary, the movie has an insanely brilliant premise, and a storyline that seemed worthy of Vishal’s direction, yet the editing and the screenplay fails the movie. Too many loose ends, and too much of indulgence. But Vishal will be back, one hopes! I will recommend that you wait for the DVD/ TV screening of this one.

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