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MOHALLA ASSI - A perfect example of how a film gets seriously affected by an unexpected pre-release leak and fear of fanaticism. (Review By Bobby Sing)
17 Nov, 2018 | Movie Reviews / 2018 Releases / Just In

It’s difficult to adapt a novel which is known for its sharp satire on the key decisive happenings in the country in the late 80s and the early 90s. And it’s extremely difficult when the novel is actually about a city, its age old culture, its people and the local religious ambience and the language (full of abuses), much more than a storyline revolving around a few characters. But the adaptation further becomes complex  when the director adapts only a particular chapter of the novel for his film and that too roping in a lead actor in complete contrast of his onscreen image taking a huge risk.
 
The above statement basically sums up MOHALLA ASSI, based on a chapter of Dr. Kashi Nath Singh’s famous Hindi novel, KAASHI KA ASSI And the off-beat satire is unarguably one of the most daring and brave comment made over the religion based politics of our country, resulting in a new and completely different INDIA post the Babri Masjid incident in the early 90s.
 
To be fair, MOHALLA ASSI can easily be presented as a perfect example of how a film gets severely affected by an unexpected leak from the editing table must before its official release. And how the people’s court strongly condemns and criticizes a film just watching its unofficial trailer released online, having an objectionable language and a strange, questionable portrayal of a divine entity. 
 
However here the unique point of difference in this particular case is that reportedly this time it was not the censors but the makers themselves who decided to severely edit their film (after the sudden leak) before submitting it for the certificate, chopping a good 25-30 minutes, taking a clue from the wide public outrage against the leaked trailer). 
In fact that is the reason, why, what we get to see on the screen clearly appears to be a brutally edited version with conversations starting or ending abruptly and characters appearing and vanishing from the story progression without any proper justifications.
 
But since a film has to be reviewed as per its actual version released in the theaters as the director’s final edit, MOHALLA ASSI fails to make any solid impression and sadly looks like a great opportunity wasted that could have been one of the boldest and bravest project strongly commenting upon the present dicey state of our religiously diverse existence.
 
Interestingly though many of its major sequences and conversations seem to be pointing towards some of the recent happenings in the country, the film’s overall look and feel remains quite outdated (due to several years in the making) and the end result never justifies the subject in any satisfying manner.
 
In simple words, despite being authentic in its realistic conversations, MOHALLA ASSI fails to find any grip on the viewer in its first hour missing a basic storyline and the excessive abuses at once put you off as they never appear to be justified or required, also given to the homely, women characters in the script. The long, continuous talks at the famous tea-shop soon become repetitive as well as forced losing their important meaning and the Mandal Commission, Babri Masjid and other incidents happens too fast to make any significant impact on the younger generation born around or after that particular era. Honestly, even the satire falls flat due to many abrupt cuts and in absence of any strong story progression and required emphasis given to such crucial events.
 
However performances still somehow manage to catch your attention, but unfortunately that doesn’t include the surprisingly different act of Sunny Deol. As an actor Sunny certainly tries to break his set image sincerely playing the Sanskrit teaching Pandit following the traditional values, but can’t say what the thinking director had in mind while casting him for a completely mismatched role. Probably adding a star value to the product was the main reason behind the move, but Sunny never fits into the character and the choice didn’t help the film in any way as I strongly felt.
 
On the contrary, MOHALLA ASSI is a Sakshi Tanvar and Ravi Kishan film much more than a Sunny Deol venture to be straight as they both simply nail it in their given roles. Revolving around many real life characters living in Assi Mohalla in Banaras, the supporting actors largely remain underutilized including names such as Saurab Shukla, Mukesh Tiwari, Rajendra Gupta and more. 
 
On the whole, it’s really sad that a well-intentioned film having an important message, directed by Chandraprakash Dwivedi doesn’t work, which could have been one of the most important and enlightening projects of our recent times. 
 
In other words, whether it was the pre-release leak, the sudden public outrage, the fear of cuts by the censors or anything else, this is unarguably an opportunity lost for we the viewers too as the film had such a powerful story plot that weirdly gets the focus in the last 30-40 minutes only ruining the entire premise.
 
*Spoiler Ahead

For the information of friends who have not seen the film and not interested in seeing it too due to its bad reception at the box office, it’s about a strictly religious mohalla of Banaras wherein almost every home has a small ‘mandir’ in their premises. And the problem begins when one of the most respected Pandit/priest decides to convert the small ‘mandir’ of his house into a room to be rented to a foreign tourist in order to make some extra earning. The sudden, unexpected move soon gets followed by others in the neighborhood too grabbing the opportunity and they also start converting their home ‘mandirs’ into ‘to be rented rooms’ taking the worshipped idols out.
 
Now if this is not a bold, brave, potential and powerful story plot for a Hindi film raising many valid questions on our religious double standards, then I don’t know what else would be? No doubt here we have a great film lost due to our own rotten system and religious fanaticism. 
 
Summing up, an authentic but stagnant first hour, repetitive conversations & excessive abuses sadly take away the essence of this brave off-beat satire. But do still watch the film, when it will soon be there on the online portals in the coming months and try to find the REAL FILM that Chandraprakash Dwivedi actually made or wished to make for his countrymen that eventually got killed on the editing table.
 
Rating : 2.5 / 5

Tags : Mohalla Assi Review by Bobby Sing at bobbytalkscinema.com, Chandraprakash Dwivedi film, New Hindi Films Reviews by Bobby Sing, New Bollywood Movies Reviews by Bobby Sing, Hindi films based on famous Hindi Literature novels
17 Nov 2018 / Comment ( 0 )
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