(By Akshat Sharma)Vishal Bhardwaj’s stature as a competent director in Bollywood is well too known. He gave us movies like ‘Maqbool’, ‘Makdee’, ‘Kaminey’ and ‘Omkara’ but these movies had some storyline and a matching screenplay to keep pace with it. Watching a Vishal Bhardwaj film could be an experience in itself if he gets his story and screenplay in place. If these two vital ingredients are missing in his film then you get confused a film like ‘7 Khoon Maaf’ or a ‘Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola’.
‘Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola’ is not a cinematic disaster but the message it wants to communicate is so hazy and ambiguous that even after the movie ends you don’t know what exactly has happened in those two hours. The confusion begins with the title itself because the title doesn’t make any sense. Why the movie is called ‘Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola’ ? Is it a quirky rhyming scheme or some kind of creative absurdity? No explanations! To be very frank ‘Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola’ doesn’t even sound like a Hindi film. No wonder some people thought it could be a Telugu movie!
When the film was being promoted ahead of its release the director had claimed that the movie was about land acquisition and it was a political satire. As cinegoers we understand the limitations of being a mainstream Bollywood director but it doesn’t mean he has the licence to play with our wits and makes us feel like ‘Gulabi Bhains’.
Harphool Mandola aka Harry (Pankaj Kapoor) is a builder who also operates as a land shark. He wants SEZ (Special Economic Zone) in the vicinity of his village and dreams of smoking chimneys instead of lush green agricultural fields. Matru (Imran Khan) is a ‘Jattan Ka Chora’ who after completing his education from Delhi is forced to work as a bonded labourer to Mandola because his grandfather had taken some kind of loan from him.
Harry’s daughter Bijlee (Anushka Sharma) is a bindas village belle who doesn’t mind getting a strategically placed tattoo in Hindi screaming ‘Dekho Magar Pyar Se’. Like all typical Indian fathers Harry wants his daughter to marry Badal (Arya Babbar), the son of a corrupt female politico Chaudhuri Devi (Shabana Azmi). This matrimony is supposed to be an integral part of the SEZ land acquisition which would catapult Harry into the big league of builders.
If narrated in linear motion this story would have been easier to grasp but Vishal Bhardwaj takes the random route. His characters do random things in the first half and do not make any meaningful progress till the interval. Just before the interval there is a twist and the film gets political with Matru doubling up as Mao.
The story meanders aimlessly in the second half as well but the screenplay holds the film to a certain point. We get some nuanced lines from the characters. Pankaj Kapoor comes to his own in the second half and makes the movie bearable. He along with Shabna Azmi comes up with the best performances in the movie.
Imran Khan doesn’t look convincing playing a Jat lad and so is Anushka Sharma. She is a complete misfit in the film. ‘Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola’s music is also very average with only the title track creates some buzz at the end.
‘Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola’ is an average film which fails to meet the high standards set by the director. Watch it only if you are willing to see veterans like Pankaj Kapur and Shabana Azmi displaying their ability to perform with conviction without much storyline support.