Film Review: Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola
January 18, 2013
Vishal Bhardwaj is one of a handful of directors whom today’s Bollywood actors and actresses are yearning to work with. Both Imran Khan and Anushka Sharma’s dreams came true when the eminent filmmaker approached them to play the leading roles in his newest project Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola. This is Anushka’s next major role after having played the quirky but lovable Akira in the late Yash Chopra’s final directorial Jab Tak Hai Jaan (2012). Imran returns to the big screen almost a year after we saw him play the urban chocolate boy Rahul in Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu (2012). Vishal Bhardwaj is famous for making dark, bold and cutting-edge films like Omkara (2006) and Kaminey (2009). Yet after having seen Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola, it is difficult to say that the entertainment quality of this particular film is on par with the former two.
Set in the village of Haryana, the film is about Harry Mandola (Pankaj Kapur) who is a wealthy industrialist, but suffers from severe alcoholism. He has arranged for his daughter Bijlee (Anushka Sharma) to marry Baadal (Aarya Babbar), who is idiotic and a tad child-minded. Baadal is the son of Chaudhari Devi (Shabana Azmi), a politician who is ardent on seeing the two wed in order to ensure that her corrupt visions are fulfilled. She and Harry also share the same dream of industrializing the lands which belong to farmers who are in huge debt. However, Matru (Imran Khan), an unemployed graduate who is hired by Harry as his Man Friday, has a hidden identity which you will discover halfway through the film. This ultimately leads to twists, turns and dramas which involve and affect Matru, Bijlee and Mandola.
The film has a number of intriguing scenes that have been well made and which you will surely find engaging. These include the scenes where Harry sees a pink buffalo anytime he is not intoxicated with alcohol. Yet the screenplay by Vishal and Abhishek Chaubey was a little odd and dreary in some places. This made it all the less pleasurable to watch. However, the cinematography by Kartik Vijay has been well executed and the rustic themed costumes by Payal Saluja are unique and far from the typical attire which we see being worn by Hindi film actors. In addition, given that fewer Bollywood films are being made in a rural setting, Vishal deserves some credit for making this a rural-themed film. The villages have now become a setting which is being less adopted by today’s filmmakers, who prefer the cities as their choice of location for Hindi films.
Vishal Bhardwaj managed to extract some very persuasive performances from Imran Khan and Pankaj Kapur, who manage to give life to their characters. Imran’s village accent is top-notch and it is this which adds to his character’s charisma. Who would have thought that Imran could successfully play the role of a village boy? This is especially since we have largely seen him play urban Indian characters with Western qualities. Pankaj Kapur was endearing to watch and the scenes in which his character is drunk are particularly entertaining. His performance is one of the highlights of the film and to some extent; he bears some of the weight of this film on his shoulders in order to uphold audience interest.
Anushka Sharma gives an average performance as Bijlee and this was one of the downsides to the film. This is not necessarily due to her acting abilities, but more that her character does not have the same spices which are contained in the other characters. However, she delivers a strong performance in the last half hour of the film, especially in the scene where Bijlee is drunk. This was hilarious to watch and Anushka does this with immense ease and skill. Shabana Azmi was brilliant in her role as the devious politician Chaudhari Devi. You can tell that she is a truly talented artiste who has brought years of her experiences in the industry into this film.
The music by Vishal Bhardwaj is average, but there are some catchy tunes which have been greatly composed, with well-written lyrics by the legendary Gulzar. These include, ‘Oye Boy Charlie,’ ‘Khamakha’ and the title song ‘Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola.’ Overall though, the soundtrack to this film is not very fruitful and will only satisfy a small amount of your listening needs.
Overall, Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola is adequate, but there are parts of the film which can restrict you from classifying it as outstanding. Moreover, it is really the characters that have filled this film with immense energy. Many will agree that Vishal Bhardwaj can do better and hopefully, his next film will enable the audiences to truly feel the spirit of the director. As for Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola, Vishal Bhardwaj has delivered a good effort, but it is certainly not his most memorable.
Our Rating: 3/5 Stars
Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola is now in cinemas nationwide.