10 January 2013 | bh_harsh
if Bhardwaj couldn't pull it off, who will?
There is one thing I genuinely like about the General audience. If they don't like a movie, they would not care two hoots, unlike most of our critics and 'thinking-audience', about the film-maker who made it. If they think something is trash, Trash is what they call it. On the other hand, Critics and the 'intellectuals' are forced to think twice before rubbishing any film by a maverick film-maker.
But the bitter truth is - if we take out the name - Vishal Bhardwaj - there is very little else to savour in the whacky yet directionless 'Matru ki Bijlee Ka Mandola'.
Don't get me wrong, but its a rather disquieting experience to see the guy who made Maqbool, Omkara & Kaminey fail to realise a concept to its fullest - that had much potential for humour as well as intensity, for style as much as sincerity.
Not to say that Bhardwaj doesn't pull it off at all. Perhaps the most charming parts of MKBKM are the ones belonging to first half, where the film comfortably veers ahead with a couldn't-care-less sort of leisurely pace, never bothering to 'take the story forward' - an aura which seems even more apt considering the milieu it is set in.
The film begins with two POVs of the same scene - letting us in early enough about the stylistic brush-strokes he is going to use perhaps, further for his latest offering. Mandola - Now here is a character who acts Suicidally moral when drunk, and acts according to the world's evil ways when in his prime. The confidence comes across in the initial reels when the film charters its path sans any melodramatic dispositions - leisurely pace is an aura very few directors manage to pull off, and its not surprising when Bhardwaj does that.
Whats unsettling is how overboard Bhardwaj went and simply wrote and wrote this script until there was possibly nothing else of color that could be incorporated. As a result, the narrative looks too stuffed and sadly the film hardly ever manages to keep count of all its tone-shifts and mood-swings.
The whacky plot-devices are in abundance here, and even work to a very great extent - A boy gifting an entire Zulu tribe to his would-be is quite a thought, just because she had mentioned some odd day about her fetish for African music.There is an alarmingly incestuous angle to the relationship-mechanics as well, well treated and sans any malice. Apart from these, There is an identity-closure angle, there is a Zulu tribe, we have a very brief UFO scene, A hi-end exec asks one of our leads at least three times about "the revolution".. and then amidst all of this, Mandola (Pankaj Kapur) can't help locking eyes with a all-too- smiling pink buffalo.
Bhardwaj has a lot on his patische here, and tries his level best to make sense by bringing all of them together on one sheet. At times, he even resembles a novelist - playing with the immense possibilities of all the sub-plot that promise some thrill, some mood. One of the most set-piece is delivered when Mandola talks about his dreams as we envision them - the granduer of them all is too overwhelming, and Bhardwaj underlines the whimsical over-the-topness of it all by making the clouds appear and rain.
But when a mood-movie like this enters into a zone where the plot seems too self-important, the balance is simply lost altogether. Because as much as we dilly-dally with the crazy touches and little details, the 'story-listener' in us viewers constantly feels troubled by the ultimate direction MKBKM takes - by the pre-climax seeming like a loosely-knit 'Peepli Live', a satirical comedy about one of the most important issues plaguing our nation.
And despite exceptional performances by Pankaj Kapur (who is mindblowing throughout, actually) and Anushka Sharma in the final portions, the climax does exactly what one fears it would - fail to tie all the madcap strings together well enough, to create a concrete madcap comedy. This is a 'neither-here-nor-there' case, clearly - watchable but had lot more potential.