Mulk movie review: A pertinent message lost in a prejudiced translation

Bollywood Review

When you set out to make a film on religious disharmony, you’ve got to be brutally honest about what you’re showing, especially in a country like India, where the simmering religious undercurrent and diverse communal landscape is laden with years of historical tension. Alas, Mulk is well intentioned in its message, but too biased in its approach, and quite naive in its execution.

The premise was pretty much explained in the trailer itself: A young man from a decent Muslim household gets brainwashed and takes the path of terrorism to wage Islam’s warped version of jihad against its so-called, made-up oppressors from other faiths. It’s a plot ripe for some hard-hitting political commentary, and timely introspection. Unfortunately, Director Anubhav Sinha tries to pacify one community by brushing hard facts under the carpet and presenting a misconstrued view of cold hard facts.

The dialogues (some of which are actually clap-worthy) and performances keep you engaged, and the story is not without its merits, but you wish that writer-Director Anubhav Sinha wouldn’t have seen such a topical subject with the same “prejudiced glasses” that he accuses some of his characters in the film of wearing. While you feel the plight of a family being grinded through a harsh interrogation, and paraded before their locality and the entire country, the reality, which Sinha refuses to acknowledge, is that it’s an unavoidable mess that a family has to face if one of their flock has gone violently astray.

Also, the route Sinha chooses to make his rose-tinted points is also quite questionable. Does he really expect a bunch of long-drawn lectures, which conveniently ignore glaring truths, to change anything in today’s day and age? They’ll hardly have any impact either for a discerning audience or those embittered with hatred, for completely different reasons. Plus, you can’t circumvent deeply disturbing and intricately layered issues like the Kashmir situation, burgeoning Muslim population, and lack of education among them by simple lecturing, no matter how noble your intention are.

Thankfully, Rishi Kapoor (the man keeps pulling a rabbit out of the hat us in his second innings as a character artiste), Ashutosh Rana (hamming tempered with just the right temperament), Manoj Pahwa (desperation and helplessness personified in a character that demands these traits), Kumud Mishra (knocks it out of the park in a cameo, making even preachy sound interesting), Rajat Kapoor (competently  and Taapsee Pannu (connects with the audience despite a weak role) are so dedicated to the subject that many of the film’s misguided perspectives and loopholes in the plot can be overlooked just for to watch a fine ensemble in full flow. Even the smaller players like Neena Gupta (refreshing to see her after ages), Prachee Shah Pandya, Prateik Babbar, and Ashrut Jain play their parts with great conviction. If only they were backed by a more nuanced script and sincerer direction.

In the end, Mulk takes a preachy, lengthy, and lopsided view of a burning national issue, offering puerile answers for complex political situations, though it somehow gets salvaged by an extremely committed cast and a few rousing monologues during the denouement, which leave you on a sensational albeit empty high.

Movified Rating: 2.5/5

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