What Javed Jafferey said years ago in an ad about a brand of tomato-chilli ketchup, resonates many years later in MIRROR MIRROR. Its different. So while you have had ketchup before and you have had chilli sauce and you have also had an amalgamation of the two before, you have not had this. Its different. Lets begin by talking about the ketchup part of the film. Like ketchup, MIRROR MIRROR is a typical gift of the west. Sweet like Disney, tangy like a Woody Allen film and wow-esy like a 300. And the chilli thats the Bollywood tadka thrown in by Indian-born filmmaker Tarsem Singh.
The story is a retelling of Grimm Brothers classic fairy tale Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. But this time around, the point-of-view is the evil step mothers and Snow White is quite the firecracker princess herself. Kristen Stewart reprised the role of Snow White earlier this year in Snow White and the Huntsman. Lily Collins follows in demurely with MIRROR MIRROR. But her Audrey Hepburn meets Keira Knightly from the Pirate series is far removed from Stewarts plucky Snow White. As is Julia Roberts very entertaining and funny take on the evil stepmom from Charlize Therons scary Queen Ravena in Snow White and the Huntsman. While Lily Collins is as fresh as well a lily, Julia Roberts puts in an act worthy of a Meryl Streep. Add to that a Prince Charming in need of rescuing and seven actual dwarves with personalities like the color of rainbow. And you have a winner. However the film does take itself too lightly in places and you feel either a little disconnected or totally disinterested in the proceedings. Do watch out for the Bollywood inspired item number at the end of the film.
Director Tarsem Singh, who has a reputation amongst Indian cinephiles of being quite the wizard (something that M. Night Shyamlan could not achieve), has managed to keep his reputation intact. But I would say just about. While the film does have some of his fantastic visual wizardry, and also a better storyline than his previous debacle The Immortals, MIRROR MIRROR is not quite in the same league as his The Cell or The Fall. It has all the ingredients in place but something is amiss. And you can never point it out. But then again Singh has been known to baffle his audience before. I would say its his desperation to make two ends of the spectrum meet that lets him down. Neither one is ever fully realized.
So after this very introspective rant on the merits and demerits of MIRROR MIRROR, do I recommend it? Let me put it to you in this way, if you thought that Tarsem Singhs previous works made no sense then MIRROR MIRROR would be a complete khichhdi for you. Else enjoy it like a nuanced bouquet of wine. Sweet, sour, spicy and something different. 3.5 stars.