When the opening shot of the movie shows a limousine in the middle of a gaaon, you know you are in for a ride. I might be biased towards Vishal Bharadwaj, but I am sure this is not one of his best movies. Saying this doesn’t mean Matru Ki Bijlee ka Mandola is disappointing. MKBKM is an intelligent political satire. One needs a lot of patience and understanding to enjoy this one. It is not one of those mindless popcorn entertainment. There are many ways to approach a serious subject, and with MKBKM Vishal Bharadwaj took a very nukkad natak approach with some intelligent humour to put his point across.
Set in the rustic surroundings of a village in Haryana, Harry Mandola (Pankaj Kapur) is a capitalist when sober and socialist when drunk. His daughter Bijlee (Anushka Sharma) is a fiery girl and she with her father shares an unusual bond with Harry’s man-friday, Matru (Imran Khan) who is Mandola’s sidekick by the day and a Maoist Robin Hood for the poverty-struck peasants by the night.
Bijlee is all set to marry Baadal (Arya Babbar), the son of a powerful politician Chaudhari Devi (Shabana Azmi) but then something happens. There begins a story that brings twists and turns in the lives of Matru, Bijlee and Mandola. The movie is not simply about two people getting married and the twists in their lives, but its far beyond that. The film takes on serious topics like peasant versus capitalism conflicts, and to fight that there begins a “Maoist Movement”.
No, the story is not that serious too. It has it’s share of entertainment. Right from Bijlee’s entry from the village pond to an attempt at bribery which is foiled by the shopkeeper of a Daaru ki Dukaan to the political jokes. Everything is crafted to suit the situation. Yes the pace of the film is slow and it will occasionally make you think on the jokes. For example, there is a scene towards the end of the movie where Mandola asks Matru “Tu Mao hai?” Matru responds “Ha main Mao hun” and then Mandola hands him a bottle of beer saying “toh yeh bottle left hand se le”.
The way the story is narrated, the screenplay everything has a touch of theatre in it and you can feel it. And if such is the case, then one who knows theatre the best excels. And so be it. Pankaj Kapur delivers a stellar performance. In every scene he adds that extra intensity, which only a theatre guy can do. The way he switches between drunk Mandola and the sober one is brilliance. Imran Khan is the only disappointment in the movie. He couldn’t match up to the actors around him and looked like he was trying too hard. I think playing a Haryanvi character was a difficult task for him. Kohl-smeared Anushka Sharma breathes fire into Bijlee but in the end scenes she also looks overdone. But I feel whatever said and done she does her part well. Shabani Azmi and Arya Babbar also delivers a strong performance.
Vishal Bharadwaj as usual gives us a delightful music and even smarter movie. One can see the genius in him. In the scene where the drunk Mandola and Matru struggle to move a well from one corner to another, only because they are unhappy with its current position, shows VB’s genius. The lines, the screenplay everything goes hand in hand very well. And VB keeps the satire to a satire and doesn’t let is drift into a full-fledged movement.
Overall, MKBKM is a smart intelligent movie. Another of Vishal Bharadwaj’s experiment. Yes it’s not better than Omkara or Kaminey, but it is good in its own way. The movie has its theatre touch in it. Go for some a brilliant Pankaj Kapur, some smart entertainment and oh yes, for the “gulaabi bhaans”. Still, this movie is not everybody’s cup of tea. Or I should say- not everybody’s bottle of Gulabbo
Rating- 3.5 out of 5