Marjaavaan movie review: Sidharth Malhotra- Riteish Deshmukh’s poetry slam will give you a headache
Director - Milan Milap Zaveri
Cast - Sidharth Malhotra, Riteish Deshmukh, Tara Sutaria
Marjaavaan belongs to the 80s. We saw its clones and the clones of its clones back in the day and suffered for it. With the 90s new wave, we had hoped that the decade and its particular brand of cinema will forever rest in peace. Anil Kapoor did a few films like this, as did Sunny Deol and Jackie Shroff. It seems now, almost three decades later, it is Sidharth Malhotra’s turn.
Watch Marjaavaan trailer
So set is the formula of an 80s masala film that it may well have been concocted in a test tube by a particularly evil scientist. A boy, an orphan, is rescued by the local crime lord; the said crime lord is the god of the local basti which missed the news alert that India is a democracy with a penal code now; the boy grows up to become the crime lord’s muscle but has a heart of gold. The love of a good virginal woman is his redemption. He does away with the crime lord in a fight sequence in which bodies do cartwheels before they hit the ground. The film outlasts your patience but not before our hero rescues one woman -- or five -- from getting raped. There will be times he will be too late, a failing he shares with the police in films such as this; so then he avenges the woman.
Director Milan Milap Zaveri (Mastizaade, Satyameva Jayate) takes the template and manages to make it worse with Marjaavaan. Maybe, just maybe, the older films were a product of their times, when we ostensibly didn’t know any better; back when a post-MeToo world was not even a dream and creativity was dying a slow death on the front benches of paan-stained theatres. Why, oh why, bring it back for an airing in 2019? There is a scene in Marjaavaan in which bids are called for a teenage girl’s virginity. The last time I saw a scene so cringe-inducing, video cassettes were still in vogue.
Taking a stab at the story of Marjaavaan: Sidharth Malhotra’s Raghu is an orphan picked by Anna (Nassar) from a gutter as a baby. Anna’s trusted hitman now, the adult Raghu ensures the gangster’s twin businesses of prostitution and water tanker mafia run smoothly. The trust that Anna has for Raghu doesn’t sit well with Vishnu (Riteish Deshmukh), Anna’s 3 foot-nothing son. Vishnu believes that Raghu has taken his place in his father’s heart and has neither forgiven his father nor Raghu for the slight. He, of course, blames his height for it all.
Raghu, meanwhile, takes his eyes off the goal after a luminescent Zara (Tara Sutaria) enters the frame. Given that women have nothing much to do in such films anyway, Marjaavaan takes away the agency altogether from her and makes her speech-impaired.
Vishnu soon gets the chance to wreak vengeance but instead of an all-out battle, he prefers an excruciatingly stretched poetry slam with Raghu. Zaveri -- who has always believed in ‘why just say something when you can turn it into a limerick, a rhyme or a PJ’ – doubles up as the dialogue writer too. You get such gems: ‘Main maroonga to mar jayega, phir zinda hone se dar jayega’, ‘Bagavat ke liye ijazat ki zaroorat nahi ... rok sake is sher ko utni tum kutton mein taqat nahi’ and ‘Mandir aur masjid dono milenge ... guzrega is desh ki jis gali se ... madad milegi har kisi ko ... maango ya Ali se ya Bajrangbali se’. I can go on but I think it will only encourage the habit.
The dialogues are perhaps the only ‘original’ aspect of the film; while everything else -- from the screenplay to the songs, are a retread. Riteish as the dwarf don seems to be in on the joke. While Sidharth is earnest even with ketchup-y blood covering most of his face, and Tara refusing to ham it up, Riteish is the only one who seems to know the sort of schlock he is a part of. And after the over 2-hour long viewing, so do we.
I, for one, will remember the film for its Raavan effigy with eight-pack abs. The bulked-up king of Lanka was perhaps the only nod to 2019.