Anubhav Sinha’s Rishi Kapoor and Taapsee Pannu starrer is hard-hitting heavy on dialogues coming in with doses of advices. It might also put off a large segment of audience
With the society and culture heavily prejudiced against Muslims and on a larger front Islam as a whole, the film comes at just the right time. But does it serve its purpose? Will it be able to change pre-conceived notions? The treatment and approach of the film- highly debatable- does attempt to resolve boundaries and break the barriers. With heavy dialogues, emotions, Hindu-Muslim relationships, nationality, and existence in question, Mulk is an earnest effort.
Set in Varanasi, the plot revolves around the joint family of Murad Ali Mohammed (Rishi Kapoor), a respectable lawyer across communities is shaken when he comes to know that his nephew Shahid (Prateik Babbar) was involved in terrorist activities. The investigative agency led by Danish Javed (Rajat Kapoor) also frames Bilal (Manoj Pahwa), Shahid’s father for aiding his terrorist mission. Coming to the rescue is Aarti Mohammed (Taapsee Pannu), who fights the case in defence.
Beginning with a stunning opening sequence, the film grips you in with its opening credits and montages of the city forming the base of the plot. Intelligent work here by the writer Sinha himself for smartly establishing the backdrop. Its symbolic, not easy to decipher, but definitely leaves a good impact.
The 140mins film is rather slow, especially in the first half where the screenplay takes its good time to establish the characters, the setting, with good amount of breathing space to all the characters, supporting ones included. But post interval, the moment court room drama begins, you are in for an adrenaline rush, more so during the last 30-40 mins of the film.
The message of the film is clear- the discrimination between ‘us’ and ‘them’ must stop and the nation can be built only by ‘us together’. A lot of instances and sequences have been penned and shot in a way to make you think in a certain way. While it also gives you what bias we have, it also presents forth the situation on ‘what should actually be’. While the overall plot isn’t very novel and you have quite often seen such stories asking you to look at Muslims with an open mind, this one stands different only through its dialogues.
The dialogues hit you right on your face- not at all subtle and trigger your conscience to a great extent. It is here that the film also weakens. A lot of the treatment is also debatable in a way that it seems an agenda to make you think only in a certain way.
Even on the direction front, its a mix. While some scenes are beautifully shown- the entry of Taapsee (one shot scene), when the family disowns the dead body, the climax monologue of Rishi Kapoor as well as Tapsee are to die for. On the other hand, there’s also heavy preaching in many scenes- a genuine put off. This especially will disappoint masses eventually boring them.
Rishi Kapoor is marvellous. His get-up and his demeanor are such that you are convinced that he’s actually a practicing Muslim. He’s nailed his act in every frame. He’s the one who makes you fall for the drama.
Taapsee Pannu is too good. Although its not her best performance till date, she delivers a poweful stance in her act- a strong character delivered well. She has layers- emotions, dignity, self-respect. More so, her character is that of a Hindu girl married in a Muslim family making it all the way more detailed in the creative aspect of it.
Rajat Kapoor in a small role is good, ofcourse underutilised. Ashutosh Rana as the prosecution lawyer is dramatic, most of the times. He leaves a good impact though.
Kumud Mishra in a special appearance is fine. Prachee Shah has a well-etched role and she does justice. Prateik Babbar has a brief role and he does average. Neena Gupta too seems underutilised in her role- the way its carved out.
Music by Mangesh Dhakde is mediocre and nothing to shout about. Even the background score could have been much much better, allowing the film to soar high.
Cinematography by Ewan Mulligan is okay. The camera is reasonably good, wonderful in the opening sequence but not so much otherwise.
Editing by Ballu Saluja is good, not great. The film of such genre should have had more compelling and interesting moments, all possible through editing. Whatever excitement is there is because of direction, not so much through editing.
Art direction by Nikhil Kovale is first rate and of superlative level.
The film scores at many levels. Also it disappoints by means of its narrative structure consisting of preachy dialogues. What the film should be watched for is the intention. Even if 1% of what is told is properly conveyed, this indeed would be a better society.