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Upperstall Review

Synopsis

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Mirch

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Hindi, Drama, 2010, Color





Maanav (Arunoday Singh) is a struggling filmmaker who is unwilling to compromise on the script he has written. His girlfriend Ruchi (Shahana Goswami), a successful film editor, arranges for him to meet Nitin (Sushant Singh), a film producer. Nitin likes the script, but is not very sure of its commercial prospects. Maanav then suggests a story from the Panchtantra: A woman is caught red-handed with her lover by her husband and yet, she manages to wriggle out of it scot-free! Nitin loves the story, but finds it too short for a feature film. Maanav then creates three more stories based on the same premise: in a way, the Panchtantra story travels in different versions to the modern times through the film. The four stories are woven together by a common story. The film itself echoes this structure, with four stories mingling with the main narrative.



Mirch is a recipe gone sadly wrong. What was clearly intended to be a delicious wicked, tangy and spicy dish falls flat as if the chef forgot to put enough of the main ingredients in the dish - those to provide the tang and the chilly! This is highly ironic considering that in the film, the producer tells the struggling filmmaker to make sure he puts enough 'mirch' into the intended film for it to be palatable. Still, the film does manage to address issues of sex, gender bias and the lovemaking sequences are handled well enough without making them appear coarse. And filmmakers can surely identify with the struggle that Maanav undergoes to make the film he wants to. But ultimately, the script and narrative flow does the film in.

With stories taken from the Panchatantra, Decameron Nights and an Italian fable with some of the actors playing mulitple roles, the film on the surface has a lot going for it. But the four stories fail to come together coherently in spite of a common theme and even the linking with the fifth story is unconvincing. The problem is that each of the stories - which are interesting in that the women are the adultrous and definitely cleverer parties - move much too flatly and staidly and are also far too long in running time. So by the time you come to the actual punchline or twist, it is lost and fails to have the impact it should have created. Consequently, the wit, inventiveness and humour just doesn't come through well enough in its cinematic translation. And when the producer laughs uproariously at the end of the first three stories, you wonder what is it you've missed. And it isn't just you. All the people in the hall too were dead silent. Of course, you don't laugh at the 4th one either (also the weakest of the four stories) and this time neither does he because suddenly there are personal implications here but that's a different issue. Of the lot, the second one with Konkana having to come through the three conditions still comes off relatively better but none of the post-interval stories help the film.

Arunoday Singh as the struggling filmmaker as well as the illicit lover in 3 of the 4 stories is unable to hold the film together. You feel as if he is doing English Theatre rather than cinematic acting and his anglicised Hindi is prominent even in the period stories. Still, the rest of the cast do what they can and do lift the film a notch. Raima Sen and Konkana make the most of their dual roles though you do feel Konkana a trifle high pitched and shrieky in the final story and Boman Irani too seems to be obviously acting. Shreyas Talpade, Prem Chopra, Rajpal Yadav and Ila Arun have their moments while Shahana and Sushant are adequate.

Technicalities are average at best and all in all, for all its intentions, the film simply fails to come to life.


Upperstall review by: Karan Bali aka TheThirdMan


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