An idealistic Punjabi hamlet is struck by a storm even as the dimly-lit settlement remains calm from the inside. The stirring weather is a sublime tool to explore directorial whims. Also as it, simultaneously hints on the upcoming turbulence. Among the countries, within the nation, and between two lovers.
As the great-yet-largely-unacknowled ged actor Pankaj Kapur hides behind the lens to carve a film he authored for son Shahid, Mausam - enchanting in fragments, changes gears too abruptly, never settling down for it to become a compelling session.
Shahid Kapoor's Harinder Singh is our archetypal village charmer, who by his baby-face and sporadic wit, flings the car-keys from the elder gods, gets treated to mouth-watering delicacy at a dhaba, dons weird costumes and entertains via a Nagada-type song (can't remember the name), and also predicts how his closest buddies are probably going to end up. In-between all this sophomoric indulgences, love comes swirling down from the Kashmiri-valley and then the use of binoculars is permanently modified.
Pankaj Kapur steals a considerable amount of time in establishing the laidback Harinder, so as to convincingly set the character in contrast when its time for him to fly planes. But the timeline takes a rather liberal leap, and the character just around plausible, drives into an alienated persona wherein we never get to get acquainted to him, as if watching him from a safe distance.
He gets overly-aggressive even when 'dushman' is a topic casually mentioned in a personal conversation over the phone (so as to convey his 'deshbhakti'), what he does inside the fighter-jet is plain touching the surface, mouthing superficially-imposing, lazily written lines. And the VFX doesnt help in improving the mediocrity of it all.
Sonam Kapoor's Aayat - a lovely name to go with a reticent face; giggles and screeches and converses in strictly measured dialogue, that too in an undertone. Undoubtedly, it adds a lyrical charm to her personality but is also funnily inconsistent. Now, how do you be convincing with the largely unconfident, partly traumatized Aayat transforming into a perfect ballroom dancer, with gorgeous sophisticated aura tinkling all over, as she sells Mozart-concert passes on a Scotland street with rockstar-like coolness?
So, here are your imperfect characters - and they are not intentionally flawed, plain due to lack-of-whatever. I'm saying this because almost the entire cast was yelling to the press of how they had invested two years of their lives to the project.
Both of them, over a course of few days in the grainy Punjab-land, fall in unconditional love that is to go beyond romance. as we have been told. And actually, it does. To an extent. The scenes of the couple together do lack a certain sense of vibrancy, but win because of the subtlety, enjoying a poetic charm.
Over the path of their meeting-and-separation that spans a decade, crucial national and international tragedies occur, directly and indirectly disturbing the tale of the two. Its a great idea, but these massive tragic events arent integrated with the story of our central characters thoroughly making it look like forced conflict that is keeping the two apart. Moreover, the communication failure is magnified too much, for it to be taken plausibly.
This perhaps is the greatest tragedy of Mausam. Although I felt I was engrossed throughout the three hours of this season-of-dismal, it should, after all, be credited to master cinematographer Binod Pradhan (Mission Kashmir, Rang De Basanti)
The surreal shots cover Punjab with a raw dash; the colonial structures of Edinburgh are loaned with inspired elegance. They see through wet mirrors, and raw ground, long shots of majestic, old-fashioned formations and the likes.
Maybe that lets you succumb to the flawed Mausam. However uncooked, the ancient charm which Pankaj Kapur tries to fuse in modern-day romance works (partly) after all, because of the atmospheric nature the film holds, and some great sounds that light-up in the background.
A close-fitting editing and clearer understanding of the uncertainty that a harsh seasonal change can come along with could have made Pankaj Kapur achieve greatness out of his debut, and Hindi cinema its deserving epic-romance.
Yes, the film is keen on putting forward the themes of chance and co-incidence, and destiny and that is not the area where I'd complain, but when a paralyzed limp jumps to life, as a kid helplessly cries stuck dangerously in a Ferris wheel, I give up to try liking Mausam as much as I would like to like it. That said, I still do like Mausam. Give it a decade (almost as long as the film runs); it WILL be deemed a great film.
C'mon, you can find 10 faults in Michael Curitzs classic and still not stop yourself from liking it.