11 July 2013 | kabeer-who
Shakespeare would be proudly smiling in his grave as Vishal Bhardwaj moves the greatest tragedy Macbeth to Mumbai's underworld. However, the queens, the witches and the swords are replaces by adulterous mistresses, corrupt cops and flying bullets. Unlike other Bollywood movies Maqbool does not show people dancing around trees or snow clad mountains. It definitely exceeds the defined lines of formula based commercial cinema with significant reverence. The confident screenplay keeps your attention right from the beginning not releasing you until the last reels have flashed.
Bhardwaj conveys a tantalizing tale about an ageing don, Abbaji (Pankaj Kapur). Maqbool (Irrfan Khan) is the trusted right hand man of Abbaji. The two corrupt cops Pandit and Purohit (Naseeruddin Shah and Om Puri) are shown as always predicting the future. In one such case they hint Maqbool that he will one day take over Abbaji's position. Thus, the seeds of ambition and jealousy are sown. Nimmi (Tabu), Abbaji's young mistress has a dangerous secret liaison with Maqbool. Nimmi teases and taunts Maqbool over his position and his non-hierarchical status. This gives way to a blood soaked drama. Nimmi urges Maqbool to murder Abbaji and take his position both in the hierarchy and her bed. For love and power, Maqbool murders Abbaji not knowing that untold devastation lies ahead. While everyone suspects Maqbool of foulplay, no one has the nerve to implicate him. Drowning in guilt, Maqbool as well as Nimmi, start hallucinating, imagine hypothetical drops of blood on their bed, the wall and even see spectres of the victims of their passion. Maqbool tries each and every source to reconcile, but does not work. And murder begets murder.
Humour has been used very occasionally but in an extremely well concealed manner. Touches of humour, in the first half show Abbaji's power over his kingdom. But, at the same time it also shows his love for his men and his much feared presence.
Abbaji played by Pankaj Kapur is a symbol of power. Kapur making a comeback to the big screen is seen in a tour de performance. Personally, this is one of the best performances by an actor in many years. His posture and well conceived posterior facial structure hold true to the character of Abbaji. At times, he reminds us of Marlon Brando in Godfather. Irrfan Khan playing Maqbool takes us on an aesthetic ride, at times to the realms of reality. From Maqbool's over vaulting ambition dominating his conscience to his love n lust for his lady has been shown with some epitomizing ease. Watch Irrfan in the last flashes of Maqbool breaking into moments of nothingness. Tabu playing Abbaji's mistress coming from Lucknow is seen in a dark role for the first time. Her sparkling performance manages to strike a balance between passion and hysteria. Both love and angst are a part of Nimmi shown simultaneously and that too quite incredibly. Undoubtedly, Tabu is one of the finest actresses of her generation.
Naseeruddin Shah and Om Puri sparkle with a scintillating performance of two corrupt cops. Both in extremely witty performances are shown as playing games with both the underworld as well as the police force. They are the Bhardwajian counterparts to the three witches of Macbeth. They predict the future and are always eager to maintain 'Shakti Ka Santulan'. They constantly induce in Maqbool the ambition to rule, to conquer. They incult humour in every scene constantly reminding us of the dark side of the tale.
The screenplay by Bhardwaj and Abbas Tyrewala weaves your mind with some exhilarating scenes. However, towards the end Maqbool's much expected death is dragged along and at this part the screenplay goes weak. The striking dialogues by Bhardwaj himself gives a soul to the movie, providing it a typical Bhendi bazaar touch. Bhardwaj has craftily managed to maintain the poetic reverence of each and every scene. Some of the shots are lyrical; even the violence is aesthetically treated and is never gratuitous. Abbaji's house creates a timeless and mysterious feel. However, cinematographer Hemant Chaturvedi's use of stark colours adds to the foreboding. Bhardwaj himself is the music director. Daler Mehndi for the first time does not sound like a squeaky rhetoric radio in his rendering of the Rubaru number. Maqbool is definitely a stroke of genius. There have been man interesting yet unreal trials on the underworld on screen like Satya, Vaastav, Company but this movie goes beyond gangwars, corruption, dons, policemen, politicians. Maqbool takes an overwhelming leap into the psyche of the protagonists, riveting out what guilt and its denial does to them. Impermeable, heavy and dark ; Maqbool is highly recommended cinema.