Anticipation can be exhilarating and waiting for this film has been just that. For with every additional chunk of news concerning this film has just made me want more. The promotion for this film has been going on for awhile, but it has spread far enough that in the end, it’s been just enough, right when I needed it. And unlike most promotional material, I was just as excited as the first time, right up until it’s premiere.
Known for his darker take on reality, Vishal Bhardwaj, is now tackling the world of rom-com with Matru ki Bijlee ka Mandola. And with the title, it’s apparent only the genre has changed, for he continues his trend of oddly meaningful titles and if all talk is to be believed, his characters are as multi-layered and faceted as ever. The U/A certificate clearing by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), the filmmaker will be able to reach a much wider audience, for unlike his other films, it’s not restricted by the A rating and deemed proper for family friendly viewing.
*Official Synopsis: Set in the rustic surroundings of a village in Haryana, the film is a comedy-drama about Harry Mandola, a wealthy industrialist who loves his drink, his daughter Bijlee and the unusual bond they both share with Harry’s man friday, Matru. Matru studies LLB in Delhi University but does not get a job upon graduation and returns to his village to take up his family profession of serving the Mandola family. Also, he loves Bijlee. Bijlee later goes to Oxford University to study and falls in love with Baadal, the son of a powerful politician, Chaudhari Devi, and much to her father’s delight, Bijlee is all set to marry Baadal. This alliance which is far from being a simple union of two young people becomes the seed for a story that brings twists and turns in the lives of Matru, Bijlee and Mandola.
Cast: Imran Khan, Pankaj Kapur, Anushka Sharma, Arya Babbar, Shabana Azmi
Imran Khan has only been on the film scene for four years now but he’s an absolute favorite of mine. To date, I’ve gobbled up all of his films and adored him in each and every one. I won’t boast that he’s the best actor, for he definitely has limitations but like most I seem to flock to, he has a sincerity in his approach to his work that I respect. He once said that he didn’t want to be a typical Hindi star, cause he can’t dance and would rather have the gumption and gall to be more like an Abhay Deol. Who at the time had been able to pick Indie projects or unconventional roles that didn’t require the regular song and dance number. Though Imran wasn’t able to begin his career in that vein, he’s doing a great job of peppering his career with films that are about more than item numbers. With projects, like last year’s Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu and Delhi Belly, he’s proven that he can embody more than a myriad of the stock reluctant hero or boy next door types. And now MKBKM shifts him into quite another territory. For I’m certain Matru will be the most intellectually and emotionally complex character he’s ever taken on.
Anushka Sharma debuted rather large, in Shah Rukh Khan starrer, Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, but my first encounter with her was in her third film Band Baaja Baaraat, which subsequently shot her to stardom. And rightfully so, for the film was wonderful, as well as her performance but once I went back to check out her other endeavors, I was nonplussed by her tendency to take “girl with attitude” or “the angry chick” characters, with no foreseeable cause. Her fervor for acting and down to earth attitude toward the industry, was always a draw to her personality but it wasn’t until Ladies vs Vicky Bhal, that I saw that spark again. Ironically, this role was with her BBB co-star and (baseless) rumored boyfriend Ranveer Singh— which of course does nothing for killing the speculation. Like, Imran, I’m positive, this role with be turning point for her, because I’m certain that feistyness that I’ve seen before actually has merit this go ’round.
When a film enlists the caliber of veteran actors, oft times it doesn’t know how to use them but when they are utilized properly, the picture is anchored well. Having Pankaj Kapur in the third tier in this movie was perhaps, the best overall casting in this film, beyond the cameo of Shabana Azmi. Both are actors have such a richness to their portfolio of projects and acting styles that anything that has the fortune of their name attached with worth the gander. Kapur began as a theater actor and has continued in the field while simultaneously creating a lasting presence in film. This also isn’t his first Bhardwaj film, for he also starred in the director’s Macbeth adaptation. Like I said before, this will be a different type of role for Kapur, however, I have little doubt the he will turn whatever idea I’ve ever had about loud mouth drunks on it’s head. Azmi is my favorite strong independent woman, whether it’s reel or real life and this role sticks with that persona. However, right now she might be getting more press off set for her political and social stance on the current climate of violence in India.
Music: Hindi film soundtracks are launched a couple months before the film, to give audiences a bite of what is to come. Not only do you have trailers but snippets of musical measure even entire songs to whet the palate until the film arrives. However, I rarely, if even take this opportunity because I don’t want to be spoiled in anyway and basically because the music in film isn’t anywhere near what it used to be. But at times, there are tracks and albums that are so well talked about that I’m intrigued and this can be said for MKBKM. Watch the latest music video release “Khamakha” and listen to the entire album here.
Thoughts: The premises of this film isn’t that new in that we’ve all seen the trusty right hand man falls for the boss’s daughter setup. However, like all stories it’s not the premise but the characters that sell the story. For, good stories have to be about more than, will the guy get the girl, or confess his feelings, yet also give tangible reasons for believing the characters deserve what they desire. Plus, I am certain, this premise is only the hook and this film is about far more than a village dude who has designs on spoiled little rich girls with alcoholic fathers.
What draws me to this film is the way I know Bhardwaj will expunge my current idea of the nature of rom-com films and birth in me a desire for something, perhaps not altogether new but more realistic, tangible and true. For with most popular films, all one could hope to see is what is written above, however, that is not this film creator’s brand of storytelling and one can only imagine what more he seeks to convey through this genre. This film also holds a twinge of mystery that has me questioning what Bhardwaj plans to accomplish and if he will.
Matru ki Bijlee ka Mandola opened Friday and is currently in theaters.