Begum Jaan - Review

wogma rating: Watch when on TV (?)
quick review:

Asks pertinent questions subtly, but everything about it seems like it is for “effect”. None of it germane to a story.

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Wogma Review

Are women treated any differently now than they were back in 1947? Are women “sex providers” whether or not they are sex-workers? Is national pride or religion more important than humanity? Was the land of the people not raped when the border was laid out in 1947? These are the questions Begum Jaan, the film asks without saying it out loud. While that is worth appreciating, the metaphors are so direct that they just about qualify as metaphors. Begum Jaan then is full of ideas that get badly beaten up in execution.

Begum Jaan is loud – both the film and the character. It is ok for one character in a film to be loud, but when a whole cackle of characters is loud it is difficult to take it seriously. It reminds you of loud Hindi TV series or typical Hindi slapstick films – an association that is unlikely to bode well for any film.

To top that off, almost each woman in Begum Jaan's brothel is pretty much the same. There are barely any distinguishing characteristics - except for their accent. There is a touch of a difference in terms of one has a lover, one has a child and so on. But these are superficial differences. Something the writers seem to have added to convince themselves that these women are different from each other.

Same thing can be said about the actors. They are all models who have been asked to accessorise their costumes a little differently from each other but else the body language, the mannerisms, the thought process, are all more or less, identical. Vidya Balan of course stands out. The powerful actress that she is, she blends in too. After the initial exposition, she becomes more and more Begum Jaan and less Vidya Balan. Other than her though, it is only Chunkey Pandey who moves you – his first scene in the film is enough to send a chill down the spine. That the film doesn't capitalise on his acting any further is only a shame.

That there is no depth in the writing keeps coming back to you in different shapes and forms - be it in the situation, the involvement with characters or even the dialogue. It doesn't help that until the interval, everything you see you know from the trailer. And yet, there are a couple of things that you would expect to happen and they don't. That in its own way is refreshing. However, some of the unpredictable things are also made so for effect and seem out of place.

Moreover, the drama - extended length of scene, over-written dialogue, loud background score, husky voices (because you know, they are sex-workers) - makes some parts of the film almost unbearable.

That is pretty much symbolic of almost everything about the film. Whether it is one of the two impactful moments in the film or the overall concept itself – it all seems just skin deep.

- meeta, a part of the audience

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: Lots. Sexual violence, gun fights, gory concepts, etc
  • Language: Lots of abusive language
  • Nudity & Sexual content: The film is set in a brothel with a quite a few scenes of sex-workers with their clients.
  • Concept: A brothel falls in line of a new border between two new countries.
  • General Look and Feel: Loud. The texture is even within the setting of a desert.

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

  • Direction: 1.5
  • Story: 2
  • Lead Actors: 2.5
  • Character Artists: 2.5
  • Dialogues: 2
  • Screenplay: 1.5
  • Music Director: 2
  • Lyrics: 1.5

Begum Jaan - Movie Details

Begum Jaan - Trailer

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Comments (1)

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Sonia:

Well this movie failed to impress the audience.

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