Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola

MKBKM poster

MKBKM poster

Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola
Release date: January 11, 2013
Directed by: Vishal Bhardwaj
Cast: Pankaj Kapur, Anushka Sharma, Imran Khan, Shabana Azmi, Arya Babbar

With a rustic settlement and background of a liquor store in the middle of a farm and a limousine in the foreground, this is how the film aims at being ‘unpredictable’ right from the start. And it somewhat comes through as that, given the commercial viability of it. Yes, Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola (MKBKM) is comparably the most commercial venture in Vishal Bhardwaj’s catalogue. No, it isn’t neo-noir or supremely grim in its black comedy.

The plot covers a drunkard, Hari Mandola (Pankaj Kapur) who has rechristened himself to a more English Harry Mandola. The juxtaposition of his both sides, i.e. Hari and Harry are absolutely contradicting. When he drinks, he becomes an earthy cuss word mouthing locale where he even calls himself a selfish person, and the royal Harry is a tough whip-bearing admonisher. He’s hired Matru (Imran Khan) primarily to keep an eye on his drinking habits, or so he says.

The village in which they live in is named after Mandola himself. Just like any other ‘progressive’ state’s farmers face the issue of relocation and giving up their land for the creation of Special Economic Zones and the eventual setup of a production plant, Mandola’s farmers have the same problems. They aren’t pleased with the state and try to reach out to a mercenary Mao. Though not a direct representation of Maoists, but the character is surely symbolic. Bijlee (Anushka Sharma) is Mandola’s daughter who’s about to get married for the mutual benefit of her father and Chaudhary Devi (Shabana Azmi) to her son Baadal (Arya Babbar).

The cinematography remains brilliant and vivid throughout the length of the film. The best display of photography is during the, okay wait (for you to judge) The writing keeps varying between satire and pure realism to completely hilarious debaucheries. Except for Navneet Nishan’s pink wardrobe shtick almost everything is acceptable. Pankaj Kapur’s acting prowess is on outright display and there’s no reason to complain. His inebriated Haryanvi mouthings are perhaps the heart of his character. Many will complain about Anushka Sharma’s portrayal of Bijlee or rather complain about seeing her play out the exact same person that she did in Jab Tak Hai Jaan. But it’s not really her fault or is it.

Imran Khan has not much meat in what’s written for him or his beautiful beard conceals any secret heavy emotions he’s played out. I am fairly confused. The second half has moments that slow down the course of the film and the climax takes the age-old approach of crashing a wedding, but it’s quite fun. There’s mush at the end, but it isn’t cringe-inducing mush. Also, there are immaculate beards all around the village.

MKBKM isn’t a dark-themed out and out draining emotional drama, but is rather a tutorial for our writers on how they can infuse genuine wit and black comedy without sucking out the life from the narrative of the film. It’s a fun-filled entertainer that has its brain in the right place.

My rating: ***1/2 (3.5 out of 5)

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