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01-11-2013, 09:07 AM #1
- Join Date
- Sep 2011
Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola: uninspiring and disappointing
Director: Vishal Bharadwaj
Cast: Pankaj Kapur, Imran Khan, Anushka Sharma
Vishal Bhardwaj has often served us with offbeat and interesting cinema. So even with a title like Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola which doesn't make much of semantic sense, you expect an eccentric and entertaining film. Unfortunately, the film is as contrived and manipulated as its title.
Having its roots in the age-old seed of peasant versus capitalism conflict, while the problem might still be pertinent today, the satirical treatment and ridiculous resolution that the film opts for is far from influential or exciting. And somewhere between this Maoist movement, the director suddenly realizes that the heroine remains underutilized and so a languid love story is inserted intermittently. A bride running away from her wedding pheras (rather making the groom run this time) is the last thing you expect from the climax of a Vishal Bharadwaj film!
Mandola (Pankaj Kapur) is a capitalist when sober and socialist when drunk. Matru (Imran Khan) is Mandola's sidekick by the day and a Maoist Robin Hood for the poverty-struck peasants by the night. Mandola's daughter Bijlee (Anushka Sharma) is engaged to Badal (Arya Babbar) whose politician mother (Shabana Azmi) is eyeing Madola's assets for her party funds. This fragile framework pretty much forms the plotline of the film.
Right from the opening sequence where an inebriated Mandola ludicrously leads a village rally against himself, Vishal Bharadwaj attempts to impart a deliberately different shade to the film. A stunning Anushka Sharma surfacing from a murky village pool might make for a gimmicky entry scene but it adds no value to her characterization or the chronicle. Also she is certainly not a big fish in a small pond here. Moreover the tone of humour, though largely different from usual Bollywood fare, tries too hard to make an impact. However the dry wit falls flat at most instances. There is no drollness in watching African Zulu tribe members dancing in the background. And hallucinations of a pink buffalo are only occasionally amusing.
Pretty much nothing happens in the stagnant first half and by interval the viewer seems quite uncertain as to where the film is leading. A farmer revolution takes precedence in the second half as Matru's alter-ego, Mao guides the villagers. But their methods are so convenient and unintelligent that you wonder what's going on! And when the writers realize there is practically no way out of industrialization issues that the film primarily tackles, they expediently change tracks to culminate the narrative into a love story.
The pace is intentionally slow and scenes are purposely protracted, adding to the synthetic shade of the film. Beyond his grungy look, there is nothing rustic about Imran Khan who also often switches accents. While Bharadwaj often comes up with original and attention-grabbing dialogues in accordance with the countryside setting of his films, here he remains in comfort zone and the Haryanvi flavour is restricted to the formulaic bawdi to bhootni ke nuances. And with the love story resorting to cliches galore, the chemistry between Imran and Anushka is palpably missing. Even the mandatory smooch scene doesn't help.
The immensely talented Pankaj Kapur seems over-prepared for his character here and adds extra intensity that often goes in theatrical zone. Yet he is far more dependable than the other two title characters. Imran Khan is one-dimensional and his character, too, is clearly half-baked. Anushka Sharma doesn't get much scope here and is often over-expressive. Arya Babbar is supposed to act like a buffoon and is awfully irritating. Even Shabana Azmi can't save the sinking ship.
Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola comes across as a wannabe attempt by Vishal Bharadwaj. His most disappointing and uninspiring work!