It saddens me when a good filmmaker loses his touch. I once thought Vishal Bhardwaj is the best filmmaker working in India today. Others are only pretending to be. That was when he followed Maqbool (2003) with Omkara (2006) and Kaminey (2009). Then came 7 Khoon Maaf (2011). I gave that film the benefit of doubt, thinking that a filmmaker of such immense talent cannot make a bad film. It was an interesting failure but it wasn't a bad film. Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola is a very, very bad film. Anyone who thinks it isn't, really wishes to like the "kind" of film it is and not the film itself.
The film begins well with Harry Mandola (Pankaj Kapur) and Matru (Imran Khan) ramming a limousine into a theka. The barebones plot is clearly "inspired" from the Bertolt Brecht play - Mr. Puntila and his Man Matti. Mandola is two personalities. The disgruntled man when he is sober and the cartoonish nice man when he is drunk. Matru is his chauffeur who is in love with his daughter, Bijlee. There is nothing else that Bhardwaj does with the plot. A wonderful opportunity of adapting a Brecht play gone to waste by trying to grasp more than can be reached. Or probably grasping something else entirely which was never in reach. Instead of telling a story, we are told everything else around it. You can call this a bold move but it is nothing but an idiotic one.
Pankaj Kapur was lauded for his work in Maqbool (2003) when he did a Marlon Brando impression and repeats the same quirk here, especially when he is drunk. In Maqbool, many thought his dialogue wasn't clear enough. I couldn't fully comprehend it either but I wanted to seek the film out again to understand it all. I â€œwantedâ€ to understand what he was saying. In the case of this film, I don't â€œwantâ€ to know the hogwash he is blabbering. Some of it is funny, but mostly overwrought.
Imran Khan could have finally shown his acting chops but the script lets him down. Anushka Sharma is the single most annoying thing about the film. I couldn't tell the difference between her and Arya Baboon. Her â€œactingâ€ is getting repetitive and increasingly hammy. Shabana Azmi is the greatest actress India has ever seen and can come out of any acting hell unscathed if she wishes and that she does.
There is also quite a lot of pseudo-intellectual drivel and contemptible name-dropping Vishal â€œBardâ€waj indulges in. For example, a poster of Che Guevara in the background and referencing Mao Tse Tung repeatedly. I found it funny a few times, especially the â€œGhar mein Mao-Lenin na hain ke?â€ but when it became a part of the plot my jaw dropped out of unimaginable horror. There are also dialogues like â€œCommie bastardâ€ and â€œBourgeois Bitchâ€. Shakespeare and Macbeth are given one scene. Shakespeare? More like *Shakes head* African dancers, karaoke and a pink buffalo seal the deal. It is time for this talented filmmaker to leave European drama (particularly the theatre of the absurd) alone. Probably stop looking at Emir Kusturica, Coen Brothers and Tarantino's work for inspiration as well and look inward.
There is a scene in the film where a few people are attacked with cow dung bombs. Basically, a load of cow dung is hurled towards us. You guessed it. That's what the film is. For me, this film is a mix of the frivolity of Joker and the atrocity of Aiyyaa. (At least the former knew it was stupid.) Replace the aliens in Joker with a pink buffalo and this is what you get. Except here they take themselves way too seriously.
You'll always find people who will say â€œIt wasn't that badâ€ or that â€œThey at least tried something differentâ€. Some pedantic critics type will even tell you â€œYou didn't get itâ€. Probably start explaining who Mao is or what a political satire means. They will see what nobody else can see. Apparently. Quite frankly, it's a pink buffalo. It is a delusion. Nothing more than acute mental distortion. The fact is you've had enough of the Mao Mao and all you really want to do is punch someone in the face. My main problem is not the fact that I disagree with the political stand of the film. It is that storytelling is forgotten altogether.
I'm feeling bad dissing this film. This isn't a hate review towards the film, filmmaker or people who like it. I understand what Bhardwaj was trying to do and I know why anyone would find lots to like here. The way he did it is something that doesn't appeal to me. I did not like the humor, nor did I find anything of value. This is the vent my frustration has found. I truly wished the movie would work and I still do wish you go and see the film. For me, the thing that matters at the end of it is, whether it is a good movie or a bad movie. Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola is definitely a bad one. It is an absolute stinker and an early candidate for the worst films of 2013.view less