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Mumbai Meri Jaan – Movie Review

August 25, 2008

Mumbai Meri Jaan is more about Mumbai than the train blasts of July 2006. The bomb blasts may be the central event, but it is how ordinary people react to the blasts and their life before and after the blasts that is shown in the film. That is what prevents the film from being a docu-drama like Black Friday.

The story (no spoilers)
The movie is about the lives of six people and these stories run parallel to each other. The director’s (Nishikant Kamath, who has directed Dombivli Fast) love for Mumbai and its people is evident in every scene as he has portrayed each character lovingly. Right at the start he plunges us into the life of a socially conscious and patriotic executive Nikhil (R Madhavan) who takes the train to work everyday although he can afford a car, Thomas (Irrfan Khan) a poor coffee-vendor who feels cheated of the spoils of globalisation, Suresh (Kay Kay Menon) a Hindu bigot suspicious of all Muslims, Roopali (Soha Ali Khan) a TV news reporter who has no qualms in spicing up news reports by highlighting the sufferings of human beings, two corrupt cops Tukaram Patil (Paresh Rawal) a senior constable and his partner Sunil Kadam (Vijay Maurya). All of these people have severe flaws in their character, but we don’t see them that way. We see them as human beings who are trying to better themselves and searching for that elusive “happiness”.

The characters and the actors
The characters are mostly all sad and while they may have reason to be so, I am sure there must be happy moments in all their lives, but these joyful moments are hardly shown. The characters are brooding and introspective although at the end of the movie they are all shown to have seen the light at the end of the tunnel.

Paresh Rawal brings an element of light humour to the film by his attempts to entertain his glum and overworked colleagues. He is the “funny man” so to speak at the police station. But his humour is dark…one of his oft repeated lines is that when one is sad and feels like crying one should head for the toilet and pee, to get rid of the excess water! I felt his character was overdone and a little too larger than life.

All of the actors do an excellent job, but two people stand out in my book. Soha Ali Khan for her below average acting, and Irfan Khan for his superior acting. When it comes to Soha, she looks too glamourous for the role and as for her acting, it was not up to the mark. Perhaps her acting seems bad because all the actors around her are great actors.

All others slip into their roles easily and look their part. Paresh Rawal does a fantastic job as Patil the constable and so does Vijay Maurya, who plays the other cop. Kay Kay Menon as the Hindu bigot and R Madhavan as the confused corporate executive are excellent, masters as they are of subtle expression. But I liked Irfan the best because his character fits him like a second skin. He is absolutely amazing in the movie. He has a good role and it gives him scope to show varied emotions.

I found the character of Kadam the cop pretty strange…and frankly have no idea where the writer or director was going with him. Kadam feels that society is not justified in blaming cops for committing crimes as people from all sections of society commit them. The fact that the police are supposed to uphold the law and that is why they have greater responsibility doesn’t cut any ice with Kadam…and this scene leaves us with the feeling that the director feels the same way too. Also Kadam’s version of doing his “job” is catching couples making out and closing dance bars…this is supposed to be “work” and he is upset when he is prevented from doing it. I was surprised that the director showed this as “police work” in a film like this which is crammed full of social messages.

In Conclusion:
The screenplay (by Yogesh Vinayak Joshi) is excellent…it’s not just original, it makes the movie a dramatic representation, yet a realistic one. Another great thing about this movie is the way it makes you feel. It sort of wrenches your heart right out. The movie does not preach any political ideology…but it does preach the ideology of humanity. The film is entertaining because it takes you into the lives of the characters and we want to know what happens to them. The film makes you care. I felt there was no stereotyping, but a genuine understanding of how people think.

However, there are things about the movie that some may not like. It’s very lengthy (almost three hours) and slow in places. The police scenes need to be heavily edited…overall the editing was poor. Also, the mood of the film is gloomy, although the movie ends on a positive note.

(Film poster from India target)
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17 Comments leave one →
  1. August 25, 2008 9:30 am

    Gloomy film on Hubby’s Bday?? Too bad 😛 Should have gone for Phoonk maybe ?? 😛 Anyway good review as usual but the movie doesnt seem to be my cup of tea.

    Thanks Reema! Yeah, this is a gloomy film…but as for Phoonk, wouldn’t touch it with a barge pole for two reasons. I hate horror (although I like dark films) and another thing, I have realised that Ram Gopal Varma makes bad films. I thought he was good but now I have changed my mind. I have heard that his hit films were not really directed by him, but by his assistants, although he took the credit. So one should look at his assitant directors before going for his film! 🙂 – Nita.

  2. August 25, 2008 11:03 am

    Sounds interesting though the whole 9/11 type of movies do not really appeal to me. I am more “Get Over It Already!!!” type of person. In any case Bombay is so frequently blown up I was kind of even confused about which blasts you were talking about until I re-read the first few lines. The city seems to be a terror magnate.

  3. August 25, 2008 2:56 pm

    I like hard-hitting realistic films and this seems to be one.Would catch it sometime.

    Neat review! 🙂

  4. August 25, 2008 3:09 pm

    I saw this, and Mughal-e-Azam, too, this weekend.
    Both movies were watchable, but overdosed by 30 minutes. I think our movie makers want the public to get satiated after the movie, and get the paisa vasool feeling.
    And, yes, this Mumbai flick had too many social messages. It was in-your-face progressive thinking, and you could almost see the director wagging his finger at us.

  5. August 25, 2008 4:47 pm

    I am not sure if I will watch this. May be later on DVD.
    Someone from Bangalore watched the movie Phoonk alone in the theatre paying 47500Rs in response to RGV’s offer of 5 lakhs to anyone who does that.
    I think RGV has already started losing money on the movie.


  6. August 25, 2008 4:49 pm

    second movie review in 2 days! 😛 added….

  7. August 25, 2008 5:14 pm

    I was wondering where R.Madhavan was. He wasnt seen in any Tamil movie recently. Surprised to see him in this movie, yet not so as it is done by Nishikant who did the tamil remake of Dombivili fast with R.Madhavan. I will check out the movie, but length …hmm … are there songs that can be skipped?

    no one singing and dancing here. just a background song, a repeat of the classic, mumbai meri jaan. – Nita.

  8. August 25, 2008 10:45 pm

    Thanks all for your responses. Not replying individually today, am not in town.

  9. August 25, 2008 11:11 pm

    Well, lets all just thank Bhagwan/Allah/Jesus that its not London Meri Jaan or NY Meri Shaan or something like that … 🙂

  10. August 25, 2008 11:28 pm

    Gloomy movies should be kept short. Indian mentality while watching a movie is that – we go to watch movies to get entertained, not to cry. So we don’t have the kind of patience to sit through a long dark movie.
    And you should have watched some candy floss romance on your hubby’s birthday. 🙂

    Amit, the movie was slow. I can sit through a 4 hour dark movie, no problem! – Nita.

  11. August 26, 2008 2:34 am

    Wanna watch it! And does anybody else think that you can judge a movie by it’s poster?

  12. ashish jha permalink
    August 27, 2008 2:26 am

    Trust me, we needs such kinds of movies in India, its an eye opener and it tells us a lot about life.
    We are the only country where Hindus and muslims are so close.
    I loved the movie, great work.

  13. August 27, 2008 11:17 am

    If Dombivli Fast was any testimony to the director’s talent, I would love this movie too. Maybe spread over 3 -4 parts 😛

  14. August 27, 2008 8:53 pm

    I know a lot of people who saw the movie and found it thought-provoking and not that gloomy.. I mean obviously it’s about the blasts so it ought to be that.

    I think coming from a place like Ahmedabad, where we breathe riots I know that although some of us are not caught amidst it but all of us face the brunt of it in someway or the other… It changes lives in the most strange ways and fear seems to make a person really empty..

    I think it’s important for people to know that they need to be alert but not paranoid. But at the same time not simply blame every other muslim. I can relate the character played by Kay kay pretty well… infact every other hindu you find here would be thinking like him…

  15. August 31, 2008 10:34 pm

    I just saw this movie, I really liked two scenes in it, the one where Thomas(Irfan Khan)’s wife is trying to get on the escalator in the mall.

    And the other is the scene at the end with Nikhil (R Madhavan) in the train.

    The movie was quite good overall, although Soha Ali Khan’s part was unnecessary and not well done in any case.

  16. mayank permalink
    September 1, 2008 8:28 pm

    Terrorism has been wreaking havoc in our country for quite a while. The film shows how these bomb blasts change peoples’ lives forever.

  17. December 9, 2008 11:31 am

    May be very late, yesterday i got a copy of this flick and watched it at home. With the back drop of fresh terror attack, movie gave me more rise and drop in EQ (Emotional Quotient).
    I liked the movie, i would say it was first movie that made me have tears in eyes.
    It showed clean “How incapacitated a common man in Mumbai is ?”.
    And because he/she is “incapacitated”, he get back with life, and it is claimed to be “Spirit of Mumbai”.

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