Star Cast: Rajat Kapoor, Kalki Koechlin, Shiv Pandit, Lushin Dubey
Director: Nicholas Kharkongor
What’s Good: Mantra has an interesting plot that touches upon the post liberalization state of affairs in the business circuit.
What’s Bad: Lack of a coherent script and fluidity in the screenplay leads to a half baked attempt.
Loo Break: Yeah! You could use one.
Watch or Not?: Mantra is not meant for a theater watch. At best, the film should have been a short film but as a feature film, it is passable.
Kapil Kapoor (Rajat Kapoor) is going through bankruptcy for his business of Kings Chips post liberalization. New players are in the market and Kipper Chips is killing KK’s business.
His son, Viraj Kapoor (Shiv Pandit) has chosen to have his own business, which is a chain of restaurants named Mantra, with his sister Piya (Kalki Koechlin) as the chef.
KK’s wife, Minakshi (Lushin Dubey) is depressed and unhappy with the way their relation is heading and is contemplating divorce.
In this India Shining phase, where KK’s life headed is what is left to see.
Mantra Review: Script Analysis
Mantra is focusing on various subjects at once. It not only talks about India’s changing economics, but also how the country is at the peak of change in terms of mindsets. Bureaucracy and politics work hand in hand in this newly formed system.
90s kids will be able to find a special connect with this film, considering the story actually is about the popular chips brand Uncle Chips being acquired by Frito Lays.
An interesting conversation between KK and his son about the latter resorting to equity and investors for his business where as KK having built his business after pleasing his way up through public sector banks is good. A sharp comment on today’s entrepreneurs.
With a dysfunctional family at its core, Mantra never manages to put together the pieces of its sub-plots. Especially, the one with KK’s youngest son being in an internet relationship isn’t explored well.
Some things are well crafted like Kalki’s character being molested and how she opens up to a stranger who saves her. The scene where she tries to file an FIR is equally powerful. Also, a good reminder that crimes against women in Delhi have been a problem since then and have only got rampant overtime.
Adil Hussain’s character of a food delivery person recently moved from Jharkhand, the new state could have been talked about more.
At points, the story gets too self involved from KK’s perspective and that’s where it loses its flow as it misbalances with the other sub-plots.
The English conversations at points seem literal translations like, in a conversation between KK’s friends, there’s a mention of ‘Our AJ’ which is quite literally like ‘Apna AJ’.
Mantra Review: Star Performance
Rajat Kapoor as KK does a good job of a frustrated yet stubborn businessman who doesn’t wish to give in to circumstances. He’s brilliant in a scene where he gets stoned with a stranger.
Lushin Dubey as the wife does a decent job. In one of the scenes where she has a breakdown, she does a fine job.
Kalki Koechlin as Piya has a limited role and she pulls it off pretty well.
Shiv Pandit as Viraj pulls off a neat act.
Adil Hussain’s cameo is subtle but powerful.
Mantra Review: Direction, Music
Nicholas Kharkongor’s Mantra’s major issue is that it will appeal to only a selective class of people. The basis of this story is nostalgia for many whose lives changed at the brink of Liberalization in India.
The crowd funded film has the right questions to ask but misses in making a point towards the end. The climax of the film does not go well with the way its story was progressing.
Overall slow-paced, the 90 minute film has too much on its platter. Symbolism works its way in most cases and the most powerful scene is that of Adil Hussain admitting to coming to Delhi from Jharkhand in search of work. He claims there’s no development happening in his hometown and we see a massive ‘India Shining’ board in the background of a shady place that he’s put up at. It’s also amazing how he asks Kalki – the upper class Delhite if she’s heard about “Jharkhand”.
The execution of the larger picture falls short at many places, pulling this film down.
Mantra Review: The Last Word
Mantra is a failed attempt thanks to its sub-plots that juggle to be in the right place. A 2/5 for this film.
Mantra releases on 17th March, 2017.
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