The other film

5 09 2008
mumbai meri jaan

mumbai meri jaan

I caught Nishikant Kamat’s Mumbai Meri Jaan right around when this was happening over at Spacebar’s. Mumbai Meri… is nothing like Jaane Tu… And is definitely worth watching. It has been repeatedly called Crash-like, which is sort of true. But it is definitely one of the best movies to come out of Bollywood(?) this year.

The film follows the lives of 5 characters in Bombay around the July 11th, 2006 train bombing. The actors fit right into the roles here. Irrfan Khan as the Tamil coffee vendor is very convincing. Paresh Rawal* does a great job as a policeman at the verge of retirement. KayKay Menon gets to do what he always does best -be a terribly frustrated person with misplaced priorities. But they are all good actors to begin with.

Surprisingly (or commendably), Kamat has managed to get a good performance from not just Soha Ali Khan, but also Madhavan. Soha plays a TV journalist who does what all TV news channels and anchors seem to do best – get a story and look good doing it. Until one day there is the bomb blast and her life turns into one of the stories the press wants to cover. Madhavan plays a software engineer who refuses to move to the US, or buy a car and continues to take the local trains. And of course, he is in one of the trains where a bomb goes off and his world is rattled.

These ordinary stories of average struggles in the lives of regular people that can be seen in any big city. But the film-maker has managed to give us a sense of who these people are. This is rarely done well in most films. There are people sitting around having chai in the corner shop making jokes. There is a character who lectures a street vendor on the issues of using disposable plastic bags. A glimpse into how the rest of India gets to see and experience the Mall culture (hint: They are usually not even allowed to enter one).

Very few films shot in Bombay manage to capture the fine balance of the grittiness and the beauty of the city right. This is one of those films. I loved the way this film has been shot. It captures what I saw of the city the one time I have been there.

If you don’t get to see this film, atleast catch a clip from Kamat’s Dombivli Fast on YT.

* Unlike how he is typically wasted in what passes for Bollywood comedies (Yes, I mean those hideous remakes of 80s Mallu movies by Priyadarshan).

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2 responses

6 09 2008
Ludwig

Agree mostly, but for 2 quibbles:

1. It was a bit toooo “preachy”, I thought. Could’ve done without 2-3 of the monologues (Rawal’s and that NRI friend’s (with gratuitous WTC destruction senti)).

2. > Irrfan Khan as the Tamil coffee vendor is very convincing.

Dei, this makes me suspect you were Watching Under the Influence. Of Pigeon knows what… Thought he was horrible. Or to clarify, he was his usual good self as long as he didn’t open his mouth and talk “Tam”. They should’ve found someone to dub his voice (but then what’s the point of Irrfan Khan?), or found a legit Tam actor to do the role, I don’t know Prakash Raj, or Raghuvaran (RIP) or equivalent (if there exists). The Irrfan-as-bad-Tam-bad-Hindi-speaker-in-Mumbai was a major false note in the piece.

Ah well.

Apparently Tahaan, A Wednesday, Rock On are all very watchable. Sudden glut…

11 09 2008
blackmamba

ok, it was a decent film, but not really super-good. I think I was drunk.

Either, when I watched the film
Or, when I wrote this review.

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