Release Date : Jan 11,2013
Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola
Review by : Kaushik
1 of 2
Production: Fox Star Studios, Vishal Bhardwaj
Cast: Anushka Sharma, Arya Babbar, Imran Khan, Pankaj Kapoor, Shabana Azmi
Direction: Vishal Bhardwaj
Music: Vishal Bhardwaj
Cinematography: Kartik Vijay

Vishal Bharadwaj is back with his brand of earthy and enjoyable cinema. Imran Khan’s rugged makeover, Pankaj Kapur’s return to mainstream acting and Anushka Sharma’s bubbly presence have been the movie’s talking points pre-release. Does the movie offer more to talk and deliberate?

A typical Indian farming village in Haryana by the name Mandola is the scene of action. We have a big shot businessman, Harry Mandola (Pankaj Kapur), who dreams of turning the village into a concrete jungle by building malls, factories and such. A politician, Chaudhari Devi (Shabana Azmi), is also hand in glove with him as they attempt to convince the villagers to part with their lands. A marriage of convenience between their respective children (Bijlee played by Anushka and Baadal played by Arya Babbar) is also part of their deal.

Standing in their way is a missionary young law graduate, Matru (Imran Khan), with communist ideals, who cleverly leads the farmers in the village in the guise of Mao. Matru works with Mandola and his job is to control the latter's frequent drunken sprees and trips. He cleverly manipulates his master on occasion too. The romance between Matru and Bijlee takes its shape in due course of the movie.

What happens to Mandola’s concrete dream and to Bijlee’s planned marriage of convenience? Does Matru succeed in helping the farmers retain their lands and does Mandola give up his drinking addiction? Watch this Vishal Bharadwaj special, to find out.

The film has some landmark performances, led by the masterly Pankaj Kapur who lords over the movie with his range. His drunken antics are fabulous – the scenes when he tries to pull the well, when he flies his aircraft without control, the ‘pink buffalo’ hallucination scenes and the climax are all samples of his caliber. Imran Khan’s bearded makeover suits his character’s lofty ambitions. He has acquitted himself pretty well.

Anushka Sharma  is a firebrand as we know and when she is given a bottle of alcohol in hand, trust her to take it to the next level. That’s what she does in the hilarious climax. As always, she gives a lot of freebies to her male fans thanks to the many shots of her dashboard abs and long thin legs. She shines too, in the scenes when she tries to encounter her drunken father. Her dance moves in the end title song are uninhibited.

Arya Babbar’s histrionic range is pretty impressive as his role requires him to be dumb and pretty eccentric in his reactions. Nice show indeed. Shabana Azmi’s  cold and conniving villainy is a revelation and the way she and Pankaj flirt around suggestively is also something new.

There are other memorable characters like the colorful African Zulu dancers, the blind kid, and the village transgender who has a substantial role. The pink buffalo and the alcohol bottles are also responsible in a big way for the movie’s course of action. Spirit flows indeed.

The chemistry, that Imran and Anushka share in that scene where they plan how to bust the marriage is classic. Arya Babbar and many others eavesdrop on their conversation while they do a Macbeth inspired act. This beautiful sequence culminates in a passionate kiss between the lead.

The music by Vishal Bharadwaj is native, rustic and foot-tapping. His BGM score is perfect for the comedy drama that unfolds. The little sequence at the start, when he musically warns about the ill effects of alcohol and tobacco is a great example of his creativity. The aerial shots of the lush green fields are proof of Kartik Vijay’s skills with the camera.

MKBKM also warrants mention for the fact that serious issues like land grabbing, villages being converted as Special Economic Zones (SEZ) and the resulting plight of farmers, have been treated in a lighthearted yet impactful manner. There is no scope for preachy scenes here. Village life has also been portrayed intricately like in other such movies like Lagaan and Peepli Live. The little musical jig towards the end where the various government scams doing the rounds off late are revisited, sums up the movie very well.

The slow pace of the movie and the overdose of chaste dialogs are among the few dampeners. If the theater screens English subtitles along with the movie, then you may thank your stars. English subs are a necessity to understand and appreciate the movie’s nativity and authenticity.

To sum up, MKBKM provides ample doses of fun and has a nice serious issue at its core too. You will surely come out of the hall with a satisfied smile. 

Verdict: A heady rural cocktail which is high on spirit. Do watch it.