Film: Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola
Cast: Imran Khan, Anushka Sharma, Pankaj Kapur, Shabana Azmi, Arya Babbar
Plot: Harry Mandola (Pankaj Kapur) is an industrialist who loves his daughter Bijlee (Anushka Sharma), and the bond they share with Harry's man friday, Matru (Imran Khan). Bijlee's plan to wed the son of a politician, however, brings twists and turns in the lives of Matru, Bijlee and Mandola.
Imran Khan and Anushka Sharma have created quite a stir with their outrageously hilarious Matru and Bijlee chracters, not to mention Pankaj 'Mandola' Kapur's significant performance. But has the film made the cut? Here's why reviewers' are disappointed.
Taran Adarsh, Bollywood Hungama
With Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola, Vishal goes to the Indian hinterland yet again to narrate a brand new story. This film, like some of his past works, reflects the rustic flavor of villages/small towns. The supremely talented film-maker is often accused of making 'dark films', but Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola is an exception. Vishal tackles a serious issue, but makes sure he injects dollops of humor this time. Be forewarned, the humor is not the leave-your-brains-at-home kind of stuff that we get served in most films. It's quirky and unconventional.
Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola is definitely not Vishal's best work, though the master touch is evident in several sequences. The story barely moves in the first hour; there are stretches when the account begins to blur. Thankfully, the sequence of events and some exceptional moments in the post-interval portions save the film from tripping. At the same time, I wish to add that the film could've done with some judicious trimming for a stronger impact. It's way too lengthy!
Each and every actor fits in delightfully in the structure of the tale. After Delhi Belly, Imran faces the biggest challenge of his career as he attempts to portray a Haryanvi in Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola. By transforming his looks and working hard on his dialect and body language, Imran shuns the chocolate boy image with this performance. The act takes him to another level, in a different league altogether. Anushka has emerged one of the finest actresses of her generation. Her character is truly complex: She's confident and mischievous, yet vulnerable and naïve. Her smoldering looks coupled with a nuanced performance will win her praise. Her styling too catches your eye.
Pankaj Kapur enacts the flamboyant and boisterous part with gusto. The veteran goes all out for this role -- singing, dancing, jumping into a pool -- and it is this enthusiasm, besides a splendid performance, that merits the highest praise. Shabana Azmi is magnificent, as always. Her character changes colors constantly, an act only a powerful actress could've essayed with expertise, and Shabana takes to it like a fish takes to water.
Verdict: On the whole, Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola holds your attention in parts, but that's not enough. The first half is lackluster, while the post-interval part catches some steam. However, the excessive length plays a spoilsport. Below expectations!
Roshni Devi, KoiMoi.com
The movie takes some time to gather pace and you might find your attention wandering in the first half. But the well-timed humour, drama and romance keep your interest later. The part of selling their wheat to a huge company also seems unnecessary while Matru-Bijlee-Baadal’s love triangle looks haphazard. Some of the parts – Matru and Harry pulling a well, Devi’s “beta” speech – will have you in peals.
A veteran like Pankaj Kapur does not need words of praise anymore, but here goes nothing. Whether it’s the slurring Robinhood urging a torch-wielding mob against himself or the stiff, whip-cracking snob, Pankaj Kapur is brilliant as Harry. His mood shifts are inimitable. The only hiccup is that some of his dialogues in his drunken moods are quite indecipherable. Imran Khan just doesn’t get it right, apart from the looks (which are precise), his mannerisms and dialogue delivery fall short from what’s expected. Anushka Sharma continues her spree of tomboyish roles as the wild-child Bijlee; she aces it with her tipsy act in the climax.
Again, Arya Babbar gets to play the IQ deficient chap, and he gets his comic timing right. Villainous and seductive, Shabana Azmi shows the right amount of restraint and malice as the wily Chaudhari Devi. Navneet Nishan gives a nice comic relief and maybe could have done with a longer role (wishful thinking).
Verdict: If you’re a Vishal Bhardwaj fan, be prepared for a fare that’s different from his dark, moody style. The fun and songs should keep you going though. Watch it for a nice dose of rustic comedy!
Aseem Chhabra, Rediff
Kapur is absolutely terrific in a demanding role and just as he has done in Bhardwaj's other works (Blue Umbrella and Maqbool), he gives one of his career's best performances here.
The unfortunate thing is that just as Mandola's character, Bhardwaj's MKBKM also has a split personality. At times, the film is hilarious, and reminds you how much fun Bollywood cinema can be, and at other times, it is dull, disappointing, and quite annoying.
At times, the film attempts to discuss some very important and pressing issues facing India [ Images ], and challenges the country's bright, shining image, while at other times the film is muddled, confused and messes up its good intentions.
MKBKM starts with so much promise. A white limousine is parked in the middle of agricultural fields facing a shack.
Bhardwaj brings high energy to some parts of the film. As always his musical compositions and background score are delightful. Just as he did with Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor in Omkara, he finds the inner actor in Imran Khan in MKBKM. But his storytelling skills are not well-honed here.
Verdict: So, unfortunately, MKBKM does not deliver all that it promises.
Saibal Chatterjee, NDTV
It isn’t a big, bloated blockbuster wannabe. It has its daring share of moments that defy popular expectations.
It is a spirited comedy that has its heart in the right place. It has something to say about what is going on in this country in the guise of a skewed development model in which farmers thirst for electricity to irrigate their land while humongous shopping malls a few kilometers away glitter all day long.
Bhardwaj’s first all-out comedy...soars and hits the high gears with aplomb, but does so only occasionally. The eventual landing resembles a nosedive more than anything else. If not an outright wreck, the result isn’t always a pretty sight.
Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola is Bhardwaj’s most political film to date. It tackles the sombre theme of political corruption and capitalist greed against the backdrop of a small Haryana village fighting to save its arable land from being acquired for a proposed special economic zone.
But much of the political posturing that the script is built around is at best superficial and unsurprising. The humour is laboured at times and the potshots the film aims at a system that thrives on unbridled abuse of power and pelf is often rather feeble.
Despite the uneven quality of the ambitious narrative, Bhardwaj packs in just about enough quirky energy to make Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola generally watchable.
Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola is marked by an adventurous streak that is commendable: Bhardwaj pushes the goofy storytelling style all the way through to the bitter end. It is another matter that the strategy boomerangs frequently.
Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola is hurt the most by the erratic performances of the lead actors. Imran Khan and Anushka Sharma, playing villagers who have been educated in the big city, are anything but consistent with the Haryanvi patois and accent.
Pankaj Kapur is the pivot of the film. However, his character is over-wrought, if not over the top.
Verdict: Be that as it may, I would still recommend Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola.
Shubhra Gupta, Indian Express
The setting is very Bhardwaj: small town, North India, shifting for this one from his favorite hot-spots in western UP to a Haryana small-town. But the tone is new for him: he’s gone folksy-serio-bizarre here with seriously mixed results. Pre-interval, it is a meander, with a bunch of characters wandering around in search of a story, and situations meant to induce hilarity which fall flat. Post which, fortunately for him, and us, he discovers the ‘sur’ he’s been aiming for, and ‘Matru’, wherein you can actually see some of the theatre turning appropriately absurd.
Once the director gets to the point, we realize it’s a very meat-and-potatoes kind of story, the most meat-and-potatoes Bharadwaj has been, despite the weird contrivances he includes in the telling of it. The conflict is the familiar poor `kisaan’ vs rapacious overlords, and true love vs forced alliances, and how education save our souls, shot through in some parts with the sort of VB flourish that make his films such delights. But he makes us wait for the good bits, does Bharadwaj, and by then we’ve nearly fallen asleep.
Verdict: The film passed me by in the first hour. It enticed me back again in the second half. But not enough to make me forget the inert prologue, which is minus drama, which is Bhardawaj’s true forte. Iss Matru aur uski Bijlee se mann kam dola.
Shilpa Jamkhandikar, Reuters
Bhardwaj's film starts off funny and his trademark style is evident -- from the brilliant "cigarette smoking is injurious to health" message at the beginning to the Tarantino-esque first scene.
Bhardwaj takes on the touchy issue of farm land being taken over to expand India's cities and make way for retail and commercial space, but he chooses to tell the story through a cast of decidedly oddball characters.
You don't have to look too far to see Bhardwaj's inspiration -- a band in the film is called the Kusturi-ca Band (probably after Serbian film-maker Emir Kusturica, known for his absurdist cinema), but Bhardwaj doesn't manage to take the madness all the way, getting caught up in a boring love story. The theatre of the absurd can be funny and engaging if it goes all the way. Half measures mean that the film begins to look a little sad and embarrassing in the second half.
There are some inspired moments, like Shabana Azmi's slightly crazed act, and the Mao references, but in trying to add a commercial angle, Bhardwaj goes for a love story between Bijlee and Matru. What starts out as an interesting film disintegrates, and leaves you bored.
There too many coincidences and convenient plot twists and the end will leave you anything but satisfied. The other big handicap is that Bhardwaj's leading man just isn't up to it. Imran Khan goes red in the face trying to muster up a Haryanvi accent and act tough. You can actually see the effort in his acting and that's why it jars all the more.
The star of the film is undoubtedly Pankaj Kapoor. As Mandola, he is quirky, feisty and energetic and overshadows both young actors with the sheer energy he brings to the screen. Azmi gives him a run for his money, playing a deliciously evil character. I wish her exit had been written better though.
Verdict: Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola is a disappointing film, one that could have been so much more.