Mumbai Meri Jaan – Movie Review
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.
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.
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