Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola: Bharadwaj fails to enthrall

MUMBAI: Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola is a Haryanvi film made in Hindi and English. When the characters don‘t add ‘Se‘ to end a sentence like Hai in Hindi, Aahe in Marathi, Chhe in Gujarati, they are speaking immaculate Hindi or English. This time, the ardent Shakespeare devotee, Vishal Bhardwaj attempts to create his own masterpiece. He has Imran Khan and Anushka Sharma at his disposal but he chooses veteran Pankaj Kapur to be his star attraction.

Producers: Vishal Bhardwaj, Fox Star India.

Director: Vishal Bhardwaj.

Cast: Imran Khan, Anushka Sharma, Pankaj Kapur, ShabanaAzmi, Arya Babbar.

Kapur‘s character is inspired from a Rajshri film, Sunayana (which was ‘inspired‘ by a Charlie Chaplin classic, City Lights) where a drunkard rich man has split personality, all heart when drunk and a tyrant when sober. The rest is loosely strewn around him.

Kapur is Mr Mandola, the tycoon in a village populated of 300 farmers. His home is palatial and the village Mandola, district Rohtak, Haryana state, is named after his family. He is a single parent to his only daughter, Sharma, who has been away most of her growing years, first studying in Delhi and later attending Oxford. Since Kapur has this problem where after four pegs he tends to get generous and will donate his fortune, he has employed a retainer, Matru, played by Khan. His job is to drive Kapur around and stop him from drinking after fourth peg. Kapur is bent on quitting alcohol but lacks willpower. He has another problem. His preferred brand of alcohol is Gulabo and every time he tries to go off drinks, he sees a pink buffalo, which only makes him drink again.

Kapur is a land-grabbing tycoon who has dreams of turning the village of Mandola into another Gurgaon, filled with malls, multiplexes, corporate parks et al. Sharing Kapur‘s dream is the state CM, Shabana Azmi. She is obsessed by Pragati-progress-and has one eye on Kapur‘s estate and the other on Delhi, for ultimate power. To keep Kapur in check, she keeps romancing him and playing footsie with him while planning to marry her son, Arya Babbar, to Kapur‘s daughter.

So, what does the hero Khan do for there is no romance happening in this film? He plays retainer to Kapur by the day, is his drinking partner by night and also plays a Zorro like character on the side, a saviour of the village people whose land he wants to save.

Azmi, once she is in Mandola, forgets her state and acts like the CM of the village! Along with Kapur, she tries all sorts of tricks to make sure the crop is destroyed and the farmers are compelled to sell their land. One of the tricks is to invoke the rain gods to flood the village and ruin the harvested crop stored all around the village. The prayers work and crops are destroyed. If this is comedy, it does not work on the audience.

That is the problem with Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola. Tagged as a romantic comedy, it fails on both counts. There is no romancing at all and the comedy is pathetic and juvenile. In fact, the first time one chuckles is a good 40 minutes into the film. There being no story as such, the film needed gags but they are sorely lacking. The film‘s co-writer, music composer and director fails on all counts. Gulzar‘s lyrics are uninspiring. And why did this charade have to last 150 minutes?

Nothing much is expected from stars in this kind of film. Still, Kapoor, the veteran master, excels. To pit Khan against him is merciless act. Sharma is okay. Azmi‘s casting raises expectations but the characterisation is too bad for her to deliver. Babbar‘s job is to clown around and he is not good at that.

Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola is poor at multiplexes and very poor at single screens. If it sustains through the week, it is only because the exhibitors have no other option to feed their screens.


Gangoobai: Feel good movie

Producer: National Film Development Corporation Ltd.

Director: Priya Krishnaswami.

Cast: Sarita Joshi, Purab Kohli, Meeta Vasisht, Raj Zutshi, Gopi Desai, Rushad Rana, Nidhi Sunil, Behram Rana, Ankita Shrivastav, Aparna Khanekar.

MUMBAI: Gangoobai is mostly a Mumbai-centric subject; one which would have had some relevance in 1960s or thereabouts. It is a feel-good film in which there are no grey shades. All are positive, caring and considerate.

Gangoobai is portrayed by veteran stage and TV artiste Sarita Joshi. She works as domestic help in Matheran, a hill station near Mumbai. Her employers visit their bungalow once a month and are generous. That is except for one young girl, Ankita Srivastava, who stays put in Matheran and is rude and abusive with Gangoobai. But Gangoobai is oblivious to all that because she is nurturing a dream since she saw Srivastava in a Parsi Gara sari. The sari is worth Rs 45,000 but that is no deterrent for Gangoobai; she wants to own one soon. She promises her dead husband‘s picture she will get one. He had wished to gift her beautiful sari but died in an accident before he could. (This should have come in a flashback when she makes up her mind but comes much later in the story.)

Gangoobai stretches her limits and takes up multiple assignments to collect the money. Finally, when she has collected Rs 50,000, she descends on Mumbai with a plan to visit the shop, buy the sari and return to Matheran by the evening. But what she thought was a shop was actually a boutique where saris are designed exclusively and displayed in live ramp shows to be picked up by discerning and rich clients. With her appearance, Gangoobai is not entertained by the manager, Meeta Vasisht. But after seeing Gangoobai‘s determination and listening to her story, she melts and makes place for her to attend the ramp show.

Gangoobai chooses her sari and plans to go back. But it turns out that the sari she chose is a demo piece and she has to wait a week before they can have a new one ready for her. Her host for her stay is Purab Kohli, the store cashier. Nidhi Sunil is her escort to his house. While in Mumbai, Gangoobai wins over everybody who comes in contact with her. They all are nice, kind-hearted people and take her as one of them.

Gangoobai returns to Matheran with her sari to face another twist of fate but the end is very happy for her because the film is all syrup.

Gangoobai has been given a very limited release with a show a day only in Mumbai and few centres of Maharashtra.

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