Star cast: Pankaj Kapur, Imran Khan, Anushka Sharma, Arya Babbar, Shabana Azmi.
What’s Good: The funny bits; the Haryanvi setting; Gulabo’s appearances; Pankaj Kapur’s act.
What’s Bad: The slow first half; the undecipherable parts of Pankaj Kapur’s speech; Imran Khan’s lack of rustic charm.
Loo break: A few before the interval.
Watch or Not?: Watch it for a nice dose of rustic comedy!
What would you do if you were cornered by a pink buffalo that grins at you? When you’re tipsy? At your daughter’s wedding? Our man here – Harry Mandola – is expected to take the bull by the horns, quite literally!
Harry Mandola (Pankaj Kapur) is a wealthy businessman who’s looking forward to getting the villagers of Mandola to hand over their land to the government so that he can, in turn, buy the land from them and build a car factory. But Harry’s weakness is his drinking habit. Once he downs some juice, he does a Mr-Hyde-to-Dr-Jekyll transforming from a ruthless industrialist to a Robinhood type figure who incites the villagers against himself! To prevent himself from doing so, he has hired Matru (Imran Khan), who’s indebted to Harry after his (Matru’s) grandfather took a loan for his education.
Goading Harry on his quite unsuccessful road to sobriety is the greedy politician Chaudhari Devi (Shabana Azmi). Devi prays for untimely rains to destroy the farmers’ crops while planning to get her dim son Baadal (Arya Babbar) hitched to Harry’s daughter Bijlee (Anushka Sharma). A wild child, Bijlee is more than happy to marry Baadal, considering he can take care of all her luxuries with utmost ease.
While he tries to kick the bottle, Harry’s withdrawal symptoms include seeing a pink buffalo, Gulabo. To add to his troubles, there’s a faceless rebel ‘Mao’ who is guiding the villagers to stand up to Harry and the politicians very tacitly. And Bijlee realizes that Baadal just isn’t cut out to be her husband.
How the entire troupe get to the bottom of this problem plays out next.
Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola Review: Script Analysis
Abhishek Chaubey and Vishal Bhardwaj handle a tricky script. SEZs have caused a lot of debate in India, and the writers tread a careful line. They’ve shown how various forces come together to spell the doom of a village so that it can be forcibly converted into a Special Economic Zone, even if the land is far from arid and futile (which is supposed to be one of the pre-conditions for a SEZ). It’s assuring to see that VB’s Harry isn’t all horns and tail; in one of his rare moments, he speaks of his dream of seeing his village industrialized with huge factories, machines, and the people getting more than what they ever imagined.
Baadal is a curious character; though he’s shown to be hollow in the head, his bright moments are kind of an aberration. Harry’s character is wonderfully written and enacted. The movie takes some time to gather pace and you might find your attention wandering in the first half. But the well-timed humour, drama and romance keep your interest later. The part of selling their wheat to a huge company also seems unnecessary while Matru-Bijlee-Baadal’s love triangle looks haphazard. Some of the parts – Matru and Harry pulling a well, Devi’s “beta” speech – will have you in peals.
Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola Review: Star Performances
A veteran like Pankaj Kapur does not need words of praise anymore, but here goes nothing. Whether it’s the slurring Robinhood urging a torch-wielding mob against himself or the stiff, whip-cracking snob, Pankaj Kapur is brilliant as Harry. His mood shifts are inimitable. The only hiccup is that some of his dialogues in his drunken moods are quite indecipherable. Imran Khan just doesn’t get it right, apart from the looks (which are precise), his mannerisms and dialogue delivery fall short from what’s expected. Anushka Sharma continues her spree of tomboyish roles as the wild-child Bijlee; she aces it with her tipsy act in the climax.
Again, Arya Babbar gets to play the IQ deficient chap, and he gets his comic timing right. Villainous and seductive, Shabana Azmi shows the right amount of restraint and malice as the wily Chaudhari Devi. Navneet Nishan gives a nice comic relief and maybe could have done with a longer role (wishful thinking).
Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola Review: Direction, Music & Technical Aspects
Vishal Bhardwaj dons many hats for Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola. As director, he manages to rope in the different threads and makes it an enjoyable (albeit long) journey. He falls a bit short of the mark with the story. There are parts – like the Shakespeare one – that should have been done more subtly. As music director, he uses a captivating medley of African folk, jazz trumpets, folk songs, and their energy is infectious. Gulzar’s lyrics are very good. Kartik Vijay’s cinematography is smooth. Editing by Sreekar Prasad is good.
Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola Review: The Last Word
If you’re a Vishal Bhardwaj fan, be prepared for a fare that’s different from his dark, moody style. The fun and songs should keep you going though.
Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola Trailer
Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola released on 11th January, 2013.
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