Saturday, July 24, 2010

"Mumbai Meri Jaan" (Language - Hindi) (2008) - Movie Review

“Mumbai Meri Jaan” is the only good sign I have seen in a very long time wherein great films from Hollywood are taken as an inspiration than a shameless act of plagiarism. For once there are people rather than heroes and there are characters than villains. In real life every one of us play different characters based on instincts, situation and the belief one holds. Directed by Nishikant Kamat, this film has people living their life as it is when terror strikes. It is not the operation but the post operation which is the real test of sustaining hell and the question of existence after it.

Nishikant Kamat though gets a little too long in the end to arrive his proper and deserving destination but has stories which are told with simplicity and a moral pendulum which often gets missed, dismissed and compromised in day to day encounters. Here we have distinct people in this vibrant city. There are peculiarity to their characters in small amounts which gets disturbed in some cases and amplified in others.

Tukaram Patil (Paresh Rawal) is hitting the age to retire from the most hated and despised job the public sheds its eyes on, being the police. Then there is Suresh (Kay Kay Menon), a computer business person having a good solid subtle hatred for Muslims which gets its complete form by the bomb blasts. Irfan Khan plays a nameless Tamilian being harassed by the people of Mumbai in one form or other and gets his say. Nikhil (R. Madhavan) is an idealistic well to do working man and he prefers to be environmentally conscious and be good to his country. He religiously rides the heart beat of the Mumbai, the train and gets shaken when the beat skips to cause a deadly tragedy. Finally is Rupali (Soha Ali Khan), a direct victim of the tragedy losing her fiance Ajay (Sameer Dharmadhikari) and she has been up close in the ugly journalism India has adopted from the fear inducing US media.

Most of them go through the fear and come out infected. People like Tukya see it as a regular part of their life. He has lived through several of these in his thirty-six years of police life while his young protege Kadam (Vijay Maurya) feel emasculated of not being able to catch the perpetrators and live through being mocked by the public. He gives it back with slaps and curses whenever he pleases. He accepts bribes with a cushion consolation from Tukya while looking at what he will eventually become in thirty-six years.

Before the blast every one are in a particular juncture of opinion or phase in their existence. Though Irfan Khan’s character is as many bystanders is a simple poor guy looking for a way to make his family run with meager amount of his mobile tea stall. He stands there as a witness to Suresh’s groundless anger towards Tukya and Kadam and then being punished for being there. He goes to mall and wants to get a whiff of a perfume that would cost his entire year of hard work. He takes his small family and being doing this for a while gets him in trouble. This creates a general anger towards the people, the middle class wealthy ones of Mumbai to be despised by him. He sets off to do a prank which dangerously results in people’s inconvenience. His story is a genuine short story going with a life of its own.

A friend of Nikhil from US conveys how the next generation will be used to terms of bombs, chaos and riots unlike the current one but the fruit has been conceived well and has ripened in this generation. Bomb blasts in India has become the addendum for riots. It is too bad on the way we settle out these things far away and keep ourselves in the four walls. So is life and we do what we can but the impact of such an event mars permanently. It does to Nikhil, Suresh and Rupali directly being there while Tukya, Kadam and the innocent tea stall guy feel the ripple. The ripple is very near to its epicenter in “Mumbai Meri Jaan”.

“Mumbai Meri Jaan” uses the intertwining storytelling of “Amorros Perros” and mainly “Crash”. The great thing about the film is it takes the technique for a complex and existing pathos of the people in Mumbai. Suresh suspects the Muslim regular Yusuf in his hangout to be a terrorist suspect and begins to investigate. From the details of Yusuf’s disappearance and timing, it makes sense of him being the culprit but so will be Suresh. Nikhil cannot ride a train like before as the life threat has intruded in his common space. Rupali gets a cruel rude shock of what she has been doing in the name of journalism and news. She is put in the podium and understands the lengths to which the current media makes an ugly spectacle of misery. Tukya has conveniently lived through being docile and immobile. He has accepted the life of police person in collecting briberies but not the one he took oath for. The nameless tea stall guy just lives through it and learns a bit of wrongdoing can go a long way. All of them learn a lesson but whether they follow through is within its audience. We are who they are.


Bombay Belle said...

Mumbai Meri Jaan was a spectacular film. While you acknowledged how these people were "infected by fear" it is more than just that. To me the entire movie was a moral dilemma, every character was torn between the right and wrong. It seemed that even after they choose to act one way- right OR wrong- they were stuck in the grey area. Whether to take the train or not, let the media make a spectacle out of personal loss, call in a fake bomb scare.... you know what I mean? Even after choosing a path the character seemed distraught.

I also found it brave of the director to put in Soha Ali Khan's character. He pointed out how callous the media can be, milking a story for its worth... while in all honesty that is exactly what the director himself is doing. Milking Mumbai's tragedy for its worth... but somehow he gets away with it because he has made the film with a sensitive mind.

You did justice to the characters but not the sentiment of the movie. I thought it was a really powerful film. I really felt that movie touched a lot of people in Mumbai that lived through those attacks.

It was fun reading this review for sure! I liked the parallels you drew to Crash and other American movies with intertwined plots. Good work Ashok!

Ashok said...

Aah there goes the Belle :-). I really liked the film but of course the factor of living through it and being in a city is something I can only imagine. Though the film does justice to those, it did not make me feel like I am a part of it. May be that is something intentionally put in. Regardless it is a very well made film.