Debutante director Mangesh Hadawale’s romantic drama film offers nothing new in terms of story, characters, or even the connect
It’s Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s name attached to this film. Owing to this fact, you definitely expect substance. But unlike his own directorial ventures which have so much to adore in almost every frame, Malaal suffers right at the stage of concept, forget the treatment and how it eventually shapes up. The film in its entirety does entertain you here and there and you do like what you see in parts, since it’s a genre that attracts the majority chunk. But all the enjoyment is very superficial and peripheral of sorts. There is something constantly lacking, which puts you off very early on.
A local street ruffian of sorts, Shiva More (Meezaan) falls in love with sophisticated and once affluent-now-newly-shifted-in-the-chawl girl Aastha (Sharmin Segal). But their economic class is a hurdle in between.
The story by Selvaraghavan and screenplay written by Hadawale and Bhansali is not novel at all. There have been several such stories in 80s and 90s which talked about contrasting backgrounds of the lead pair and how the girl is slightly better off showing the boy struggle to make the ends meet.
What is to be looked for is fresh faces. But again that is debatable for there have been innumerable times when you’ve had new comers attempting to woo you. Having said that, the raw charm of Meezaan and rustic flamboyance of Sharmin Segal work wonders for the film. You feel the film only because of these two people doing their job fantastically.
The film scores on building the chemistry between the lead pair and it proves successful to some extent. The scenes are majorly not written well; they needed to be executed with more feeling. In fact, for one, the story gets cliche with the same conventional elements being played in the form of conflict. Also, the execution isn’t something to feel for the film holistically. You can’t give the film a thumbs up only for the chemistry the actors exhibit, no matter how endearing it is- here even that’s not the case.
There are two things to think about- there is a political angle to the narrative in the first 10 mins of the film, which is completely left midway by the makers. In the second angle that runs on a different track, abrupt things happen just to justify the title in the end. The film in fact gets painful to tolerate in the second half because you don’t see anything productive happening. The situations take place at their lethargic pace, putting you off big time. You only wonder why couldn’t the writing get better.
Meezaan is very good in the role of a local small time goon living life king sized in a chawl in Mumbai. He lives the character well and gives you a good time while watching the film. He’s not only caught the typical accent well but also lived up to the bumptious mannerisms the character demanded. In his very first outing, he does a really good job.
Sharmin Segal has matched up to the character arc equally well. Aastha has a more confident and matured aura as compared to that of Shiva and Segal puts her foot right on the pedal in a way that she commands the screen space effectively.
Samir Dharmadhikari is just okay. His character is laughable, unintentionally.
Inspired by the local Marathi touch, songs (so many of them) by Bhansali are okay to listen to for once. While in the film, they don’t carry the plot significantly. Nothing great about the songs, which is a disappointment indeed looking at the likes of his previous ventures. Background score by Sanchit and Ankit Balhara is rightly suited to the film’s overall appeal.
Cinematography by Ragul Dharuman is very good capturing the mood and vivacity of chawls of Mumbai. The angles and compositions too are good giving you the needed flavor of the film visually. The colors too are used impressively going in sync with the plot. For the same matter, it’s a shout out to production design by Akriti Bajaj for keeping the visually vibrant and grand in that sense.
Editing by Rajesh Pandey is decent with not much scope to play around with. It’s a straight narrative and Pandey keeps it simple, by default. The flow isn’t anything to be looked at.
Love stories have been many. What makes them engaging is the backdrop and execution. Mangesh Hadawale’s Malaal lacks in the two most basic prerequisites of love stories on screen. It evidently could be better right at the writing stage. The news that Bhansali asked for over 18 changes in the script is a point then that calls for a definite amazement. A simple one time watch, to pass time. It won’t be a loss if you don’t go for it.