Good Drunk vs Bad Sober: "Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola" (WBRi Movie Review)

Matru bijlee ka Mandola Film PosterKolkata, Jan 16, 2013 (Washington Bangla Radio) Filmmaker Vishal Bhardwaj is known for dealing with rural and semi-urban issues. His latest film ‘Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola’ is no exception, dealing with the contemporary and sensitive issue of acquisition of farming land. Bhardwaj handles the issue in his own style which may not be of universal appeal.

Matru (Imran Khan) is a young man with a degree in Law from Delhi. Not finding satisfactory employment, he returns to his native village and starts to work with the wealthy Mandola family who his family had been serving over generations. Matru is assigned to work with Harry Mandola (Pankaj Kapur) with the primary assignment of regulating Harry's amount of alcohol intake.

Harry plans to usurp some highly productive land around to set up sprawling shopping malls, residential complexes and factories which will make him richer by millions. He has the state's Chief Minister Chaudhuri Devi (Shabana Azmi) backing him up. Further strengthening the nexus is the engagement of Harry’s daughter Bijlee (Anushka Sharma) with Chaudhuri Devi’s son Badal (Arya Babbar).

Harry has conflicting personalities - a ruthless industrialist who does not care about his fellow villagers is also concerned about them somewhere deep inside and goes to great lengths for theie benefit. Interestingly his good side prevails only when he is drunk. In an inebriated state, he reveals his darkest secrets and even protests against his own nefarious schemes. One night he actually leads a rally against himself!

By the time the alcohol effect wears off, the damage has been done. The village has already risen against him and the credit for that goes to none other than his own alter ego. Later, to add to his woes, his daughter Bijlee falls in love in Matru, throwing her engagement to Badal in jeopardy. But Harry still proceeds with his paln aided by all of his resources and his strong allies. What happens to the village and the protagonists forms the highly dramatic climax.

Pankaj Kapoor has delivered one of his finest performances in this film. The audience may get confused at times about whether to love or hate Harry Mandola but they will surely be impressed by Pankaj Kapur as an actor. It is difficult to imagine anyone else in the conflicted role.

Imran Khan as Matru is another delight to watch. His transformation into a man of the soil of Haryana is complete. His accent, body-language and behavior fits in nicely with the character he portrays.

The ladies give their male counterparts a run in acting prowess. Anushka as Bijlee brings glamor to the film. Her display of bare skin was good and the tattooed parts were even better. The audience did obey the appeal of her tattoo ‘Dekho Mgar Pyar Se’ (watch but with love). Shabana Azmi as the sinister political leader is, of course, brilliant as expected.

Arya Babbar’s performance as Badal is a pleasant surprise. The actor who presently is going through a dry period can easily use this film as a comeback vehicle.

While the plot of the story is great, the film unfortunately has some distractions. The editor A Sreekar Prasad could have sharpened his scissors a little.


Watch: "Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola" (2013) Hindi Film Trailer

Payel Saluja as the costume designer has done an extraordinary job. Her work is one of the better aspects of the film. But she should have remembered that villages are mainly conservative areas and girls do not bare so much skin. But to the luck of male audience she did not.

The songs of the film are hummable but shy of memorable.

Overall the film is a good entertainer, just short of being in the class of an award-winning films. The film can be definitely watched for the top-class acting, especially Pankaj Kapoor.

Jyoti Prakash Mandal (jpmandal@washingtonbanglaradio.com)