Mr. & Mrs. Mahi

wogma rating: Add to 'must watch' list (?)

quick review:

The grey characters, the man-woman equation, the light yet philosophical touches make it a good watch. Wish it didn’t try so hard in the beginning and didn’t rush so badly to the climax.

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Director: Sharan Sharma
Running time: 135 minutes
More Movie Info

There are a lot many things going for Mr and Mrs Mahi, the film. A few are alright, no great shakes. Only two things against it—the way it starts and how it ends. The relationships, the philosophy, and the characters give you something to munch on. The story is sweet and has its adorable moments. Those are more than enough to make the film a winner. At the same time, what they haven’t gotten right is too out there to ignore completely.

The various philosophical touches felt like the thoughts that run through one’s mind as they go about the business of living this thing called life.

Mr and Mrs Mahi begins clumsily. The real issue with the beginning is the effort expended in putting the protagonist down. The even bigger problem is that the effort shows. To the extent that within the first ten minutes, if not five, my mind was screaming, “ok-ok, I get it, this character has a sorry life! Move on, already!” To the extent that my mind began to threaten the makers, “If you are showing abc, you better show xyz too to back it up.” And show, they do, xyz and more.

That the lack of empathy is intentional came as a surprise to me. You aren’t meant to root for that character. That set-up in the first 5-10 minutes doesn’t make you question their actions through the rest of the film. A pretty consistently written character, if there was one. The @7$340!3 in them stays through most of the film. They remain the sulker they started as. This consistency turned the film for me, even if I wish it was done better as a whole.

To be fair, it didn’t help that story-wise, I knew whatever was going to happen in the film up until the intermission from reading a two-line synopsis. I really wish I hadn’t. All I wanted to know was if it was based on the cricket star Dhoni’s life; it isn’t. People who have watched the trailer would know even more. If you have, there is very little in the first half to engage other than the newlywed’s awkwardness.

Yes, Mr and Mrs Mahi, the reel-couple, start clumsily too. A charming clumsiness though. One that warms you up to their relationship, even if you didn’t care for either of them individually. They make you believe they are attracted to each other. As they win each other’s hearts because of their love for cricket they won mine because the first match they watch together is a test match instead of the shorter formats! Of course, I did a quick bias check at this point.

And for this, you have to hand it to the actors. Both Rajkummar Rao and Janhvi Kapoor have you lapping up their simplicity, their frustration, their conviction or lack thereof, off their palms. Both of them want me to watch their next film because of the characters they choose to play—the character’s complexity made to look simple; simple characters peeling off one layer after another—because which human is truly simple? This is also true of the character artists, Mr Mahi’s mother played by Zarina Wahab more than the rest. Though they, that is Kumud Mishra and Rajesh Sharma make you believe in their borderline caricature characters too.

The overall story too moves from one conflict to another, not letting you settle down once it has roped you in. As if you can sense the comfort and ease that the writers have found in their craft. They smoothly weave a story where you don’t question how one incident follows the other, one scene the other.

This consistency in characters turned the film for me, even if I wish it was done better as a whole.

Until, of course, the end which makes you feel like there was no patience left for being creative with a run-of-the-mill sports-movie climax. However, they do try to give a nice spin to the all-important final inspirational speech right before the most important match of the…film. But, that is not enough to let go of the quick transitions in characters. It’s sad because it did feel like the makers had it in them to work on making it more fluid.

But I am willing to let it go. Because it does a good job with a solid hour and a half in between. It’s been a while since a film touched upon so many philosophical issues without it feeling like a clutter-dump of the makers’ thoughts. It felt like the many thoughts that run through your mind as you go about the business of living this thing called life.

Don’t you wonder about our need as a people for “star”s, a messiah, someone to put on a pedestal? This also highlights how some people are behind-the-scene people and love it there while the limelight is all-important to others. The film is an ode to coaches and mothers, even if it creates sorry figures out of them. That one line about the mother could have been done so much better by these writers. I say that with confidence because of lines throughout the film that invoke intended emotions. For example, the sledging during the matches.

Within that theme is also another large theme—and from the trailer looks like the main theme—that of parents’ dreams or lack thereof being shoved down their children’s throats. Both the lead characters have some serious daddy issues. How do they deal with them? What gives them strength? The answer to that also made me ruminate over what attracts one person to another. The crisp commentary on how we set moving goalposts for ourselves is slightly out-of-place but still went with the flow because of the larger context it was set in—between a mother and her child.

Yes, it wouldn’t be too off-target to say that Mr and Mrs Mahi’s women are at the center of the film. But you cannot deny that the woman is tossed from one man’s aspirations to another’s. And that the woman needed the man to make her and break her. Yeah-yeah, we all need someone to make and break us. But, this seemed more than just that.

Other than that, Mr and Mrs Mahi doesn’t have state-of-the-art production values. The training montage is generic, the sports shots are too. Maybe because in the makers' minds and hearts, it is not a sports film.

It is a film about two people and how they grow together. Towards their goals, against family and societal norms. Not in a selfless, romantic way. In a complex but one-thing-makes-way-for-another way. The combination makes Mr and Mrs Mahi worth at least one replay.

- meeta, a part of the audience

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So-So, by Raj

This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: A slap. No other physical violence. Though there is mental torment to some extent.
  • Language: Clean.
  • Nudity & Sexual content: None.
  • Concept: A couple finding their place in the world.
  • General Look and Feel: Functional set in an Indian city.

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

Lead Actors:
Character Artists:
Music Director:

Comments (1)

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Dear Meetu, I like the indepth philosophical bend of questioning of societal norms in all your reviews. Please continue. Did it slightly remind you of "Abhimaan" plot? And could not dissect this @7$340!3 in your review?

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