Is death a beautiful process?

Film reviews

Is death a beautiful process?
Mukti Bhawan
Hindi (U)***
Cast: Adil Hussain, Lalit Behl,  Anil K Rastogi
Director: Shubhashish Bhutian

Mukti Bhawan tells the story of a middle-class family that is jerked out of its everyday banality when the patriarch of the family declares that he is moving out to Benaras to die.

The 77-year-old Daya (Lalit Bhel) reaches Benaras with his son Rajeev (Adil Hussain) — the son acting on what he believes are the irrational whims of his stubborn father — and check into ‘Mukti Bhawan’, an abode for those awaiting death. There is, however, one strange condition in Mukti Bhawan: you have 15 days to stay and die — so, better finish your business fast.

With this unusual theme at hand, director Shubhashish Bhutian explores both the narrow, sadhu-ridden streets of the holy city and the mighty yet peaceful Ganga.

The director makes a humane study of the people there, the dilapidated streets and the whiff of something ancient in the air.

While Mukti Bhawan portrays both town and the river as characters just as full of life as those portrayed by Lalit Bhel and Adil Hussain, there is one theme/character that looms over the rest: death.

Death is present almost all the time in the movie; even when no one is dying. The conversations are full of it and when the characters are not dying, they seem to be hanging around waiting for it.

All the deaths that we see in the movie are peaceful affairs. People seem to be well aware of the ancient process they are involved in and are at peace with it.

Mishraji, who runs the ‘Mukti Bhawan’ and claims to have a gift for seeing when the residents will die (although he says that saying it out loud will take away the gift), says many times in the film that death is a process. What Bhutian has attempted is to show that it can be a beautiful process at that.

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