Review Mubarakan

"Mubarakan" is a classic Hindi family entertainer sans any message coming up after almost two years, after “Welcome Back,” by Anees Bazmee again. (photo provided)

Sony Pictures Networks and Cine 1 Studios present: “Mubarakan”

Produced by: Ashwin Varde, Murad Khetan & Sony Networks

Directed by: Anees Bazmee

Written by: Anees Bazmee, Rupinder Chahal, Rajesh Chawla and

Balwinder Singh Janjua

Music: R.D. Burman, Hasan Jahangir, Amaal Mallik, Gourov-Roshin, Rishi Rich & Yash Anand

Starring: Anil Kapoor, Arjun Kapoor, Ileana D’Cruz, Athiya Shetty, Ratna Pathak Shah, Pavan Raj Malhotra, Karan Kundra, Rahul Dev, Monisha Hassen, Krishan Tandon & Lalit Parimoo

Special Appearance: Neha Sharma & Sanjay Kapoor

Like a long-dormant volcano, the classic and unapologetic Hindi family entertainer was waiting, for almost two years to erupt. And finally, the lava of ‘paarivaarik manorajan’ has sprouted across the terrains of Hindi cinema.

Once upon a time, there were four Sikh siblings – the eldest (Sanjay Kapoor) and wife are killed in a car mishap and leave behind twins Karanveer Singh and Charanveer Singh (both Arjun Kapoor). The other siblings are London-based Jitto (Ratna Pathak Shah) who adopts Karan, and Punjab-based restaurateur Balwinder (Pavan Raj Malhotra), who adopts Charan. The fourth sibling is a bachelor – Kartar Singh (Anil Kapoor), who is quite a resourceful man in general, yet prone to loopy ideas.

Charan loves Nafisa (Neha Sharma) from a very good Muslim family but lacks the guts to tell his old-fashioned father, who will only accept a Sikh bahu. Karan loves Sweetie (Ileana D’Cruz) but also lacks the gumption to tell Jitto. To make it worse, Jitto and Sweetie have a rather (for the audience too!) distasteful first encounter at a London mall, when neither knows who the other is!

Sweetie soon moves back to hometown Chandigarh and is the apple of the eye of her father. She has also not told him about Karan, and Karan follows her there with an excuse. Meanwhile, Jitto wants Charan to marry Binkle (Athiya Shetty), daughter of the family’s uber-rich benefactor (Rahul Dev). She summons Balwinder and Charan to London, and the gutless Charan spills the beans to uncle Kartar.

Kartar hits upon a scheme of presenting Charan as a drug-addict so that the proposal will be rejected, but suddenly Charan falls for Binkle at first sight! Not knowing this, Kartar goes ahead with his subterfuge, resulting in a nasty showdown there that finally results in estrangement between Jitto and Balwinder.

After this comes, a complete comedy of errors that differs from other dual role dramas in the fact that it does have twins as the base but not the fact that they look alike – Charan wears a turban and is meek, while Karan is a London guy, shows spirit, yet timid as well!

First, the minus points of the film: one, the way the Jitto-Sweetie exchange is shown is not palatable, as in real life too, GenY is showing increasingly scant regards and respect to strangers who are elders, and for a fun film, this can evoke real unpleasant memories for many. Two, even the way Manpreet (Karan Kundra), Binkle’s brother, shows disrespect to Balwinder and the whole thing snowballs into Jitto yet asking the latter to apologize (simply because Binkle’s father is their mentor) is in bad taste.

Third, the angle of Nafisa is rather too conveniently disposed of. If she was to be discarded (there is a spoiler here we will not reveal), it should have been done in a far more convincing way. Bazmee could have reworked the plot to send a message on communal harmony through humor and the right punches.

The climax in the gurudwara is also needlessly stretched by at least 10 minutes. The music is a letdown, but for the “Goggle” song and the title-track, and the sad song “Haathon Mein Tere Haath” is a sore point and a speed-breaker. Amar Mohile’s forte for overdoing the background score and being mechanical rather than thoughtful about how to be creative has never been more sharply seen than in this film.

On the plus side, first and foremost, we have a classic Hindi family entertainer sans any message coming up after almost two years, after “Welcome Back” (by Bazmee again). This famine has led to a whetted appetite among film buffs to watch a film where we can go with elders and friends and watch sans cringing or embarrassment. The humor is clean, wholesome but only occasionally hilarious. In that sense, for Bazmee, it’s a comedown from “Pyaar To Hona Hi Tha” (a rom-com), the milestone “No Entry,” the “Welcome” franchise “Singh Is Kinng” and “Ready.”

Nevertheless, despite the resemblance in tenor to “Ready” in the theme (warring families and their climactic reunion), Bazmee and his writers succeed in the small nuances that are classic Bazmee, like the mannequin under the car parked in a No Parking zone, the mix of comedy and emotions, quite a few Anil Kapoor one-liners and so on. But Bazmee must stay away from David Dhawan terrain (the overdose of slaps) and similar, especially when that director is getting more polished in the last few years.

Bazmee extracts wonderful performances, and while Anil Kapoor is great fun and in a cuter avatar than in his other comic roles (including in Bazmee-directed films), it is Arjun Kapoor in the dual roles who steals the histrionic show. He is indeed brilliant as the meek Charan and very likable as the superficially street-smart but also timid Karan. Sanjay Kapoor, thankfully, has nothing more to do.

A powerful turn comes from Pavan Raj Malhotraa s Balwinder – here is an artist who triumphs in every kind of role and genre of film. He only comes across as fake in the climax where he is filled with remorse.

Ratna Pathak Shah, in a slightly layered role, delivers another sixer. This woman is amazing, even as her husband walks away with all the hosannas in a milieu where the media do not realize what is superb acting. Athiya Shetty is likable as Binkle, Neha Sharma is alright for her sketchy role, but Ileana D’Cruz shines in whatever she has to do. The rest are alright, though the actress who plays Balwinder’s wife is excellent.

Go, watch this fun fest just to get a long-overdue whiff of the USP of Hindi cinema – entertainment in the most wholesome sense of the word. And let us not forget that the climaxes of most Bazmee movies look better and better with the passage of years. We will give this one, therefore, the benefit of the doubt, even as we remove half a star for the Jitto-Sweetie, Manpreet-Balwinder and Nafisa angles.

Rating: ***1/2

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