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Mumbai Meri Jaan

 

Hindi, Drama, 2008, Color





The film explores the impact of the series of bomb blasts that struck Mumbai's local trains on July 11, 2006 on a motley group of people. From a brilliant broadcast journalist (Soha Ali Khan) to a patriotic corporate executive ( R Madhavan), from a retiring policeman (Paresh Rawal) to a rookie cop (Vijay Maurya), from an angry and xenophobic unemployed youth (Kay Kay Menon) to a coffee vendor struggling for survival (Irrfan Khan), Mumbai Meri Jaan follows their lives as they tackle the aftermath of this shocking incident that brings out the best and worst in them as human beings.



Our filmmakers should realize that an interesting idea or noble intentions do not make a film. They are just the starting points and the real hard work begins thereafter. First,to create a convincing screenplay that forms the basis of the film and then second, to execute that screenplay in as best acinematic language as possible. In spite of admittedly looking at some extremely relavant issues, Mumbai Meri Jaan fails on both the abovecounts.The result is a shoddy (technically), underliningly obvious (total lack of subtlety) and tedious film, the disappointment being all the more as the idea had solid potentialand has sadly been wasted.

The problem is clearly the screenplay and treatment.A film like this should have aimed to stay away from mainstream formulas andtreat itsstories ofwell etched out flesh-and-blood characters in a realistic and credible manner. However, the film treats the various stories with unnecessary melodrama as if afraid that unless there is drama, a film is not watched by audiences. Consequently, the film which should have had its share of small memorable human moments has practically none and often fall into conventional 'filmi' stories.The development of the various tracks start to go totally haywire as the film derials completely in the second half.The stories, particularlyIrrfan's, stretch logic and imagination beyond belief.One mall you can understand but mall after mall??? And by the end, the film also gets terribly preachy with the Hindu-Muslim Bhai Bhai message being forced down your throat.

The film ismuch toosimplistic and patwith no surprises at all. When the Bomb squad is called to the scooter, you know there's nothing there and sure enough there isn't, When Soha's fiance chides her about how she sensationalizes stories for ratings, you know she is going to become a story herself. She does. Agreed sometimes stories just have a single way to go. But what makes it interesting is the waythe scenes are treated. Mumbai Meri Jaan has just the odd scene that scores.The aftermath at the blast site, the hospital and the morgue sequences do have some impact, in particular the sequence where Soha recognizes her fiance just from his jeans and sneakers. Of the various tracks, Kay Kay Menon's track and the Paresh Rawal - Vijay Mauryastory come off best.

The story telling itself is largely uninspired. Since you have multiple stories, the filmmaker seems to think that just cutting from one story to another gets the job done in having a smoothnarrative flow. Consequently, no thought hasbeen given to interesting transitions both within a particular track or between the various tracks. Sometimes one track seems to go on too long at the expense of the others leading to an unevenand choppyflow. Even within the narration, the graphs stays at a flat, melodramatic level with fewups and downs. The last part of the film including Paresh Rawal's rambling, retirement speech just seems to go on and on. The film creates other doubts in the viewer's mind.If Kay Kay Menon is so Muslim phobic, how come he sits daily at atea shop with a Muslim at the counter? And what were the shots of Nehru's Tryst with Destinyspeech and footage of India down the years that accompany the opening credits supposed to signify?

Coming to the performances, good as some of them are,they still fail to lift the film. Paresh Rawal as the cop about to retire and who has seen it all in his 30 odd years in the force is easily the most expert of all the actors in the ensemble cast and is reliably efficient. Be it his one liners or his realization that he has done nothing noteworthyin his life, he is spot on. Vijay Maurya is also good as the rookie cop finding himself sucked into the system against his wishes. Their bonding is easily the best thing in the film as both rise above the script with their scene at the end of Paresh Rawal's speech being the one genuine emotional high in the film. Kay Kay Menon isin fine enough form without being spectacular as the Muslim hating unemployed man but strangely Irrfan Khan, otherwise a fine actor, is extremely laboured. You feel him acting, trying obviously to get the mannerisms of a Tamilian, rather than imbibing themnaturally. Soha Ali Khan too makes her mark in the film but R Madhavan suffers from a badly written role. In fact, his track as someone who escapes from the blast alive and has to overcome the fear of travellingagain in a local train had potential but the additional track of him being a concerned Indian citizen who tells people to stop using plastic bagsand insists on using local transport when he could well afford a caradds nothing to his character or the film. The supporting cast casting is terrible with most of them looking like bad junior artists. True, the effortmust have been to cast 'real' people but there is a difference betweennormallooking actors cast correctly as against the ones used in the film.

Techncially too, there is nothing much to write about. The special effects, the train blasts, are extremely tacky. The backsound score is terrible and the film could do with at least 20 minutes trimming.

All in all, the film is a major let down.


Upperstall review by: Karan Bali aka TheThirdMan





 

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