Malaal Movie Review

Debutant actors Meezhan (right) and Sharmin Segal in “Malaal.” (photo provided)

SLB Productions and T-Series present “Malaal”

Produced by: Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Bhushan Kumar, Krishan Kumar & Mahaveer Jain

Directed by: Mangesh Hadawale

Written by: K. Selvaraghavan, Mangesh Hadawale, Sanjay Leela Bhansali & Sanjeev

Music: Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Shreyas Puranik & Shail Hada

Starring; Meezhan, Sharmin Segal, Sameer Dharmadhikari, Ankush Bisht, Komal Chhabria, Chinmayi Surve and others

MUMBAI— Every film cannot be an “Ek Duuje Ke Liye.” We mention this aspect not only in context of an epic love story but also with relevance to a South Indian subject. Come to 2019 and every film cannot be a “Kabir Singh” either.

Here’s a South original that, very clearly, should not have been touched. The shocker is that Sanjay Leela Bhansali is involved in this film as co-producer, co-writer and co-composer! What’s more, his heart clearly is not in any of these departments. Director Mangesh Hadawale remakes a film that, if this movie is anything to go by, was itself a pointless story that did not have a worthwhile reason to be made in the first place!

Here’s the crux of the tale: A Mumbai ‘chawl’ (multiple rooms and occupants on each floor) houses the More family, and son Shiva (Meezaan) is a wayward and aimless youth. He bullies and beats and almost slaps his father, but is a whiz at cricket and also is so good at Maths he can give Shakuntala Devi a complex.

In this Maharashtrian-dominated chawl comes a family-based lifelong in Mumbai but hailing from Uttar Pradesh – the Tripathis – whose daughter Aastha (Sharmin Segal) is the opposite—she is doing her Chartered Accountancy. Her family has fallen on bad times and so has just moved into the chawl. However, she is so clever she gives tuitions to the other kids in the building. A politician, who is anti-North Indians (Ha! That ‘topical’ touch!) is a part of the reason for Shiva’s initial discord with her, as he uses Shiva’s inherent rebellious streak for his nefarious work.

The initial relationship that develops between the two youngsters is one of mutual dislike. As obvious, it soon turns into one-sided love from the boy’s side and then mutual liking. Aastha, however, is engaged to a rich heir named Aditya (played by a total non-actor) and finally decides that she will marry him for her parents’ sake rather than Shiva, who has even improved himself because of her and has also got a steady job, winning over his despairing father. But Fate has other plans.

Seriously, such a dated subject, that too without a satisfactory culmination, if (re)made, should have been delivered in a crisp narration of less than two hours with dollops of freshness and possibly humor. The dreary narration of the first half turns so drearier later that one feels that three hours of running time must surely have elapsed instead of the 2.16 hours shown on the censor certificate. And the twist comes so fast – in seconds, a la the over-hyped Marathi film “Sairaat” and its Hindi remake – that it looks as if the writers and director suddenly decided to finish this bore-a-thon.

But what makes THIS film worse is that the previous film at least had the intention of highlighting the issue of honor killing. Here, we find the motivations of every character as confused as the mentalities of the protagonists!

The music is restricted to some passable songs that, however, do not remain in memory two minutes after they are over – this seems to be Bhansali’s only concession to ‘today’ Hindi cinema! It also carries a hangover of Bhansali’s scores in “Guzaarish,” “Goliyon Ki RasLila – Ram-Lila” and “Bajirao Mastani.” The singing is soulless as well. The background music (Sanchit and Ankit Balsara) must be alright because I kind of did not notice it at all in the dullness of the whole thing!

Hadawale directs like everyone who is trying out a mainstream film with their “own arty stamp” and, sorry to say, nothing touched me. The post-climax sequence, brief though it is, looks so stretched and fake. Also notice how when the couple finally makes out in a friend’s house, the girl’s clothes, hair and even her “teeka” are totally immaculate!

Meezaan needs to be judged on better roles in better films with better directors. Here, his smile looks Madhavan-ish, his general demeanor a cover version of Ranveer Singh, and a couple of decent dances do not prove anything. His arsenal of some three stock expressions is grimly impoverished. Sharmin Segal’s expressions have one less than three (!), and at best, she can be termed strictly alright, and star charisma seems to be missing from both of them. From the supporting cast, the actors playing Shiva’s parents (Chinmayi Surve plays the mother) and close friend Nandu are effective. The rest do not matter.

Neither, truth be told, does the film. If I must watch a dull love story with newcomers, give me a “Notebook” any day. At least, the film was not negative, had its heart and brain in the right place, and the actors had risen above the plodding script.

Rating: ** (Just About)

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