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MULK - Hindi cinema thankfully finds its spine back in Sinha’s best work till date that deserves to be seen and applauded. (Review by Bobby Sing)
05 Aug, 2018 | Movie Reviews / 2018 Releases

The very first thing that comes to your mind post watching MULK is that what was Anubhav Sinha (the director) doing with films such as CASH, RA.ONE and TUM BIN 2 in the last decade or so forgetting his own skills. MULK introduces us to a completely different Sinha never seen before and the fact also makes us realize that how we-the viewers are at a loss if a capable director loses his focus and ground, dealing with the tough competition.
 
In other words, MULK is a kind of film Sinha never made before and it’s indeed a pleasant surprise surpassing all his creations till date since 2001. The film paints a beautiful as well as a scary picture of our past and the present together, commenting upon the changing mindsets forgetting the diverse culture India proudly represented in the world over. And the director really does it well along with his talented team, without taking any sides, staying away from making an intentional propaganda film.
 
In fact with MULK, Hindi cinema thankfully gets its spine back that was largely missing from its projects since many years, as the makers were not interested in saying the rights things about our society, the people and the authorities for the obvious reasons. Hence MULK certainly needs to be lauded, despite its shortcomings, as it at least finds some courage to present the blunt truth on screen – saying it loud and clear.
 
How it’s smartly modeled on PINK!
 
If you are even remotely familiar with the working style or market-led operations of our mainstream Hindi film industry, then you will have no doubts about the basic inspiration behind the film and how it must have been conceived boldly revealing the current social scenario. Hindi films get actually planned as per the last major hits appreciated by the people and MULK clearly got its genes from the much applauded PINK talking about another major social issue rarely discussed before. The format of first half dealing with a crime and the second focusing on the courtroom drama is exactly the same as seen in PINK and so is the use of phrases in its monologue as “HUM Aur WOH” similar to the “Right to say NO”.
 
Luckily what works in favour of MULK is that it successfully manages to be a stand-alone film on its own and emerges as a winner both in terms of content as well as execution supported by all fabulous performances.
 
Why it’s an important film of our present times?
 
In a scenario where events to be reported are being chosen as per personal biases of channels and newspapers, anchors are being trolled for their issues raised and films are being pulled out of the festivals on the last moment, a film like MULK is unarguably a pleasantly surprising project coming from an industry not known for making such courageous socially relevant films since last many years.
 
MULK rightly points towards our questionable prejudice looking at things without giving it a second or even a first thought. It draws our attention towards the real meaning of TERRORISM and how we have been considering it as a one sided coin forgetting all other violent acts that come under the same definition as per the law. 
 
It is an important film as it rightly guides us that the problem was never in THEM or WE. The problem actually is with US. And till we are not willing to talk in terms of US instead of WE and THEM, the gap will remain the same, repeatedly exploited by the vested interests as always. For instance, if sudden change of names of key roads and institutions sounds weird or strange, the same is also felt when crackers are burst on India’s defeat in any sports contest competing with Pakistan.
 
MULK needs to be seen as an alarm, prominently enlightening us about the way social networks are being used to influence young minds, how opinions are being constructed through the repeated hammerings and how relationships are going through a drastic change depending upon how and what you are expressing at your social networking accounts.
 
MULK works when it sticks to its subject without bringing in unrelated issues such as lynching and Cow-protection-movement in the country. It works when the title is kept as MULK instead of DESH, which also reminded me of two other worth-noticing words as DHARM and MAZHAB
 
Moreover, it is a significant attempt as it isn’t interested in blaming or pointing out who is creating these social gaps, whether its A, B or C. The point it remains interested in is that whosoever it is, they have successfully widened the gap creating divisions out of issues that were never ever the issues in the past decades.

Where its excellence lies in cinematic terms!
 
On the contrary, the excellence of MULK in cinematic terms isn’t there in its court room scenes or the second half as per my humble opinion. The film actually excels in its first half in its brilliant depiction of the family ties, the diverse characterisations, the local ambience, costumes, the crime, the encounter, the interrogations and the trauma faced by the family members coming together. Sinha’s effective screenplay, dialogues and execution (beginning with a long single take shot) strongly captivates the viewer right from the first frame till intermission with many outstanding moments.
 
For instance, the film so convincingly conveys the hidden features of our mutual relationships when at one end, a friend remains more interested in the meat-dishes being cooked in Murad Ali’s (Rishi Kapoor) home and on the other, a lady attending the celebrations says “It’s okay to attend family functions, but we don’t eat anything in their homes ever”. Later the thrilling encounter, the dragging of body through the local lanes, the scary interrogation/grilling by the investigation officer, the two brothers talking to each other after a long time in the police station and Murad Ali’s refusal to accept the body, are just terrific as the most impressive sequences of the film without any doubt.
 
The excellence returns in the pre-climax as Tapsee comes into the front in the court proceedings and her remarkable arguments simply force everyone in the theater to at least think for a while about how the things went through so drastic changes in the past right in front of their eyes. But then, the most appreciable lines get delivered by the honorable judge, giving a very thoughtful message in his verdict addressing the people at large.
 
Music and Technical Department
 
Though Sinha could have easily avoided the songs, he still never lets them hinder the pace of the film. The family celebrating together in the noticeable track “Thengey Se” actually helps in establishing the characters in the beginning itself and later others are played in the backdrop taking the story forward. Having said that, the film still would have remained the same or rather more crisp in edit with only one family song as mentioned above.
 
Both cinematography and background score remain the key features of the film enhancing the tension on screen and the same can be said about the editing too (especially grabbing your attention in the first half). Specific background music played in the sequences related with the terrorists reminded me of the films wherein particular musical pieces were used to represent particular characters. A special mention needs to be made for the art-direction, costumes and make-up department too as they never let you feel the characters as phony or unrealistic even for a second. 
 
Performances
 
Superbly supported by a solid cast, MULK has many exceptional performances led by Rishi Kapoor and Tapsee Pannu. But the ultimate, unexpected winner among them all turns out to be Manoj Pahwa who is otherwise widely known for his comic acts. Pahwa in reality delivers a haunting act as the suffering father, particularly in the grilling sequences in the station, shot in an innovative lighting. The second best act of the film comes from Rajat Kapoor, playing a highly complex character fighting with his own identity, duty and religion all together. And then we have Rishi Kapoor in a brave, honest and one of his finest performances till date playing the elder brother. 
 
Rishi makes the viewers feel his helplessness fighting with the family tragedy and then explodes in the court talking about his religion, country and nationalism answering every single person in the courtroom as well as the theater. Tapsee Pannu on the other hand remains complete natural in the first half and impressive in the second, particularly in her concluding address in the court. However If truth be told then the girl amazingly manages to leave a mark in her every major film despite having all similar facial expressions, mannerisms and body language. Working more on the same, she is certainly going to be a tough contender for the top ones in the days ahead.
 
MULK also majorly scores because of its well-chosen supporting cast featuring Neena Gupta, Prachee Shah Paandya, Prateik Babbar and more along with the ever-dependent Ashutosh Rana and Kumud Mishra playing their parts well, with Mishra grabbing all the attention in the end giving his important verdict.
 
The avoidable flaws
 
To be fair, MULK isn’t a flawless film and it also isn’t any SHAHID, KHUDA KAY LIYE or even PINK to be specific (forget about GARM HAWA).  It has its own issues of losing the subtlety, becoming too loud at times expressing the wide social division. The forced melodrama and unrealistic additions do not allow you to call it a perfect gem which include instances like the family not calling any influential person for help in the entire city where they have been living since decades. And further no one coming for their help from the city’s Muslim community too in the entire case proceedings. 
 
Though both Ashutosh Rana and Kumud Mishra play their parts well in the court arguments as per the director’s instructions, still Rana repeatedly tends to go overboard as an unrealistically sarcastic lawyer and the character of judge is more than once used to bring in the unrequired comic relief through all unreal (messy) lines. In fact throughout the case the judge clearly looks like treating it to be a just another criminal case that he wishes to get over soon as a mere routine.
 
Besides MULK misses any kind of surprise element in its script which remains entirely predictable from the very first scene (the trailers reveal it anyway) and the court trial too doesn’t bring in any new shocking revelations in the second half. In other words the entire court argument more looks like a religion based debate instead of an official trial based on solid proofs. 
 
For example, framing the whole family of a reputed lawyer of the city without any evidence never appears to be logical taking the law for granted. A young boy openly accepts to have met and known the mastermind of the blast, but the court never asks the police to do further investigation taking him as a witness. But above all, a blast has been there in the city killing 16 people, but the court or the police never appear to be interested in finding the main culprit behind the attack working on the clear leads available in the entire duration of the film, quite surprisingly.
 
Besides I noticed a few seconds insertion towards the end, which strongly contradicted the crucial message of the film strengthening the hate instead of love in a highly absurd and rude manner as mentioned ahead.
 
Post being respectfully acquitted by the court, the moment Murad Ali (Rishi) smilingly turns towards his family and friends, he also find Chaubey Ji (Atul Tiwari) standing with open arms looking towards him with twinkles in eyes, inviting for a loving, regretful hug. But Murad Ali refuses to meet him, doesn’t respond to the generous gesture made by his decades old friend and walks over to the investigating officer instead, giving him an advice for spreading love in life, contradicting his very action made just a second before.
 
Now in a film called MULK, this wasn’t any kind of appreciable inclusion, conflicting with the very message of love and harmony it otherwise wishes to spread.
 
Conclusion
 
Having mentioned the flaws in details above (which has to be a part of a review), for once I would love to forget them all, since here we at least have a fearlessly made film saying the right things, moving far ahead of the usual mediocrity of the present Hindi cinema.
 
A film which at last finds the courage to give us the real picture, reminding us of the mistakes we have been making in the past in an unaware hypnotized kind of state. Equally praising the authorities for clearing the film without making an issue of its explosive subject, MULK actually needs to be seen by the young ones in particular as they remain the main target of all such terrorist organisations as clearly shown in the film.
 
Putting it differently, the hidden powers have always been taking advantage of our religious fanaticism and the division between the Left and the Right. A lot of damage has already been done since the last three decades and the scenario is certainly becoming much more scary and dicey, irrespective of any religion, party or organisation in particular. 
 
So in the present situation there is only one thing we can do agreeing to the solution given by the honourable judge in MULK. And that’s keeping a strict eye on the activities of our young ones in the family, investigating how they are personally reacting to the daily news and happenings. What are the activities they are getting involved in and from whom they are influenced the most in their school as well as college life?
 
Sharing a well-known universal truth, no terrorist organization, no riots, no religious or political unrest anywhere in the world can be caused without the help and involvement of the young blood. It’s much easier to brainwash a 15-20 years old youngster in comparison to others exploiting them for a specific purpose. And if we can save our young minds from getting influenced from these evil powers, we can hopefully leave a much more lovable and livable world for our present and coming generations. 
 
So if possible do watch MULK taking the young ones along, as they got to learn the right things at the right time…….. plus it’s not often when you get to witness a Hindi film displaying a spine, made without caring about the returns giving a powerful social message.

Rating : 3.5 + 0.5 / 5 (with the additional 0.5 for being a courageous film made as need of the hour)


Tags : Mulk Review by Bobby Sing at bobbytalkscinema.com, New Hindi Films Reviews by Bobby Sing, New Bollywood Movie Reviews by Bobby Sing, Hindi film made on social issues.
05 Aug 2018 / Comment ( 2 )
Dharmakirthi

That is an excellent and very honest review, Bobby. I enjoyed the movie and do share everything you have stated about the movie. Yes it has its own flawed moments and could have been a far superior one, with taking care of the lose ends. Actors have all done a great job and Manoj Pahwa stands out.Thank you, Bobby !

Bobby Sing

Many thanks Dharma Kirthi for the kind words and for sharing the valuable thoughts about the film.
This is in fact an important and must watch film indeed.

Cheers!

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