19 August 2005 | cool4u1
May not live up to its astronomical expectations, but still delivers.
My Review: No Hindi film in memory (mine at least) has had as high expectations as Mangal Pandey. Mainly due to Lagaan, which is quite unfair. Granted, Lagaan is a masterpiece in every way, Mangal Pandey is not a sequel, prequel, or in any way shape or form related to Lagaan. Therefore while it may be difficult, it should be looked at as its own entity.
Mangal Pandey starts off with a blast and starts out engaging the audience. However most reviewers and viewers alike have complained about the pace of the first half. I did not find this to be a problem at all, in fact I believe the first half is superior to the second.
Aamir does a fantastic job as Mangal Pandey, as was expected of him. I wish he had spoken in a deeper tone in the film, as I imagined Mangal Pandey with a stronger voice. Although that cannot be held against him as very few actors take the risky plunge of slightly altering their voice. Toby Stephens is excellent as Mangal's friend William Gordon. His commitment to speaking Hindi as naturally as possible is evident throughout the film. Aamir and Toby have great chemistry and are quite believable as best of friends. Amisha Patel surprisingly did not go overboard in the film, and was happily part of the back-story. Rani Mukherjee does an acceptable job as the prostitute Heera, although she really needs to work on her emotional crying scenes. The rest of the cast also does a great job. The only acting complaints I have are that most of the British actors playing officers did not seem to put as much effort into speaking Hindi as Stephens did.
The direction and editing of the film were very questionable. The film has a very amateur editing, and is it by FAR the biggest flaw in the film. The scenes and songs are all sloppily placed together, completely messing with the flow of the story. The songs are downright unnecessary and the film would have been much better without it. The story, and the feel of the characters start to get into your mind, and then all of a sudden comes a song and takes you right back into reality. On the topic of music, the background score of the film also is not very well done. It does not flow well with the film, often conflicts with the visuals in terms of moods. Where there should be aggressive music, there is a mix of heroic and happy music. It just doesn't help the film for the most part.
Despite all the flaws in editing and direction, Mangal Pandey is still an enjoyable watch. It runs at a slower pace than most Hindi movies, and that may be a turn off for most Hindi movie viewers as they are accustomed to redundant love stories or nonessential action films. However, I believe that a movie does not need to be fast paced to be engaging.
Congratulations to Aamir and the cast and crew (save the director and most especially the editor) for making a film of such gargantuan scope for Hindi cinema, even if it does not live up to it's unbelievably enormous expectations (but then again, could anything ever live up to those expectations??).
Definitely worth a watch, go and see this film.