Mumbai Meri Jaan
Cast: Paresh Rawal, Irrfan Khan, Soha Ali Khan
Direction: Nishikant Kamat
His moustache more salt than pepper and bemused with the ways of the police force, a senior cop is about to retire. And at his modest farewell function, he delivers a speech that knocks you out of your seat. Touching on quite a few of the pitfalls and ironies of Bombay – from malls at former mill areas to dreams of migration turning into nightmares -- it’s the kind of speech that’s delivered every day, at various farewell parties, in various spheres.<b1>
Paresh Rawal, as the retiring cop, in fact turns out to be the sturdiest track of Nishikant Kamat’s sarcastically-titled Mumbai Meri Jaan, alluding to a ’56 song from CID. Mr Rawal is fantastic, belting out a performance that’s not only world class but a text book in acting.
And he is flanked by Vijay Maurya, as a rookie cop, who is also nothing short of extraordinary. Besides these two absolutely garland-worthy performances, Kamat’s report on the before and after scenario of the local train bomb blasts in July 11, 2006 – in which 209 were killed and 700 injured -- has heart. As importantly, it has a mind which cannot delete a devastating tragedy from his workfile.
Kamat analyses the reasons behind the devastation. Sensibly, he doesn’t offer quickfix solutions. The stories of disparate lives, like Life in a Metro but with a sense of purpose, weave into a tapestry of tragedy. The screenplay by Yogesh Vinayak Joshi-Upendra Sidhaye works seamlessly as it has a point of focus. Also, Kamat’s direction is Hercules-strong, be it while depicting the blasts or the charade played by a tea vendor from Tamil Nadu, on a row of shopping malls. A bit dangerous to show the modus operandi of hoax calls, but the vendor (Irrfan Khan, excellent ) does redeem himself, to underscore the point that there’s a reason behind every crime, big or small.<b2>
The storylets of the cops and the tea vendor work. So does that of a Muslim-hater (Kay Kay Menon) but for that unconvincing all’s-well-let’s-share-a- chai denouement. In addition, the shock of the byte-obsessed TV reporter (Soha Ali Khan, credible ) is poignant when the tables turn on her.
Of all the accounts, it’s the numbness of a white-collar worker (Madhavan) which isn’t quite plausible. Why would a man who has gone through a near-death experience hide this from his family? Also, the background music for this section– with an incessant electronic beep – makes you plug your ears. Again, in an effort to cram in too much, there’s a gratuitous look at an NRI’s condition in the U S, which in any case comes across loud and clear in the dialogue.
Yet, the sheer power, concern and the guts of such a close-to-life effort far outweigh the flaws. Technically, Sanjay Jadhav’s camerawork is inspired. The result is serious, strong and sharp at a time of Kinng-sized entertainment. There’s room for every kind of film. And this fist-packed one asserts that there’s more to cinema besides jumping on and off helicopters.