Vishal Bhardwaj has been credited with some of the most brilliant book adaptations in the past. His films have bridged the gap between conventional and unconventional cinema. But while others trust him for adaptations alone, the filmmaker tries his hands time and again at original stories too. His last original film Kaminey had not only worked with critics but with masses too. Vishal comes again with an original story with Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola. Right from its title to the casting, everything about the film has attracted attention. So whether this live up to the expectations or not let's find out.
Set in the rustic locales of Haryana is a small village Mandola named after the quirky industrialist Harry Mandola (Pankaj Kapur). A split personality, Mandola when sober is an astute money minded industrialist Harry who wants his region to be declared under the economic zone owing to which he pushes the villagers to sell their farms and properties. However, Mandola when drunk turns into Haripool, a socialist who sides with the villagers and wants their land to be free for farming. Harry's motives are driven by a Politician Chaudhari Devi (Shabana Azmi) who lures him into warding off the villagers. But the marriage of Power and Money can only happen with the marriage of Chaudhari Devi's son Baadal (Aarya Babbar) and Mandola's daughter Bijlee (Anushka Sharma). Amidst all this is Mandola's Man Friday Matru (Imran Khan) who despite working for him wants to bring about a revolution against land scam and save the villagers.
The film takes off on an interesting note where art meets commercial cinema. Not only is the backdrop beautifully captured, even the comical scenes between the stupendous star Pankaj Kapur and Imran Khan are hilarious and set the mood of the film. However, within sometime into the film you realise that the proceedings have a predictable and monotonous flow. Vishal tries to bring about some suspense element by introducing a mysterious character called Mao but the bubble burst right at the interval leaving nothing much to expect in the second half.
Considering it to be a Vishal Bhardwaj film you do expect some turn of events in the second half despite knowing the plot already and you only get disappointed as the second half too turns out to be completely predictable. Also the satirical aspects don't leave an impact on you pretty much like the bizarre presence of Gulabi bains (Buffalo) or the African Zulu tribe.
What works for the film instead is Pankaj Kapur alone. He stands like a sole saviour and it's his acting prowess that makes up for the loss in the storyline. His histrionics win you right from the very first scene where he is in his drunken stupor mouthing Haryanvi dialogues. Imran Khan on the other hand finds it difficult to match up to the acting giant. Although he gets his look for the film absolutely right but falters in the acting department. Even his diction is uneven as he keeps losing his hold over the Haryanvi twang. Anushka Sharma is her usual chirpy self and doesn't really push the envelope. Shabana Azmi gets an easy role and she almost sleep-walks through it.
To sum it up, Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola fails to leave an impact and ends up disappointing you. Pankaj Kapur's hilarious histrionics can be the only reason the watch the film.
Critic: Mansha Rastogi
(2 / 5) : Average