'Matru ki Bijlee ka Mandola' movie review: Twisted route to a downhill ride

'Matru ki Bijlee ka Mandola' movie review: Twisted route to a downhill ride

Matru ki Bijlee ka Mandola
Hindi (U/A)
Director: Vishal Bhardwaj
Cast: Pankaj Kapur, Anushka Sharma, Imran Khan, Shabana Azmi

You could be forgiven if you want to watch Matru ki Bijlee ka Mandola because it comes with the Vishal Bhardwaj tag. Add to it a gem like Pankaj Kapur who has a proven track record when it comes to great acting and the package turns near irresistible. But the euphoria, one can safely say, lasts only for the first couple of minutes. Once you figure out there is little to hold onto, the ride is all downhill.

Not for any other reason but Bhardwaj’s attempt at a comedy (that is what he calls it), in a language unbeknown to him (Haryanvi) with a foreign producer (Fox Star Studios) attempting a toehold on a bandwagon known as Bollywood, Matru ki Bijlee ka whatever is not worth your time.

A convoluted story about a JNU-‘educated’ chap Matru urf Mao (Imran Khan) who is working on his ‘revolution’ to help villagers of Mandola retain their lands against a proposed Special Economic Zone (SEZ) by the powers-that-be (Shabana Azmi as Chaudheri Devi), who has been seducing Pankaj Kapur (Harry/Hariya/ Harphul Singh Mandola) to get him to sign off the lands he owns, Vishal’s latest film is cross between a badly executed allegory and an experiment gone terribly wrong.

Somewhere in between is Harry’s svelte Oxford-returned daughter Bijlee (Anushka Sharma) ‘in love’ with Baadal (Arya Babbar very convincingly playing a dumb chap) who is equally confused about what and who she wants and how she wants it/him. Kapur is wasted in the film; Imran is not credible at all as a man passionate towards his cause, while Azmi appears to be over-the-top in her effort to play a sly, slimy politician.

One must give points to Bhardwaj for wanting to make a film on a contentious issue like the SEZ but the treatment, structure and story are at complete variance. And that is where Matru ki Bijlee… fails. It neither engrosses you enough to feel for the villagers nor makes you relate to Matru-Bijlee and Mandola who want to help them. A vacuous effort from a man from whom we have come to expect better.

These days it is fashionable to say there is good cinema and there is bad cinema. This is clearly bad cinema saved from being worse by the sheer presence of Kapur. Unfortunately, he too fails to save it.

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