wogma rating: Watch, but no rush (?)
It’s a dark look at human nature with a hint of hope that humans need. Awesome portrayal of detailed characters. Unfortunately, pace is slow enough to make it tiresome by the end.Read more
Wherever in the world I’ve lived in the last 12 or so years, I have proudly called myself a Bombayite/Mumbaikar at heart. The city has an indescribable energy that sweeps me with it whenever I’m there. Mumbai Meri Jaan, however, is about various characters who don’t necessarily have such a romanticized view of Mumbai. Each of them goes through a phase of cynicism and ultimately accepts their situation as is and joins the “spirit” of the city.
It’s a study of characters. Each character is interesting, even if not completely convincing. The combination of characters chosen is fascinating. The resistance to have extreme characters is obvious. Instead, a shade of gray is picked for each one and the variation in the grays, once in a while, defies believability.
Yeah, it is also one possible interpretation of what might have been the state of mind of the citizens after the bomb blasts on July 11th, 2006. But, that seems secondary. The bomb blasts could very well have been replaced by any other traumatic event that Mumbai has gone through in the past few years. The focus is more on the social commentary on the economic disparity that the city suffers from, the corporatization of private lives by the media, the two sides of the youth wanting to migrate abroad, and so on.
Like the city, Mumbai Meri Jaan is more about the people that make it what it is. Even the bit roles give you a glimpse into yet another character you might find in a city - spoilt rich brats, a sermonizing father, housewives for whom the bomb blasts must have just meant another event, and many more. The main characters, of course, have been dealt with in much more details.
Nikhil, an idealist who pays his taxes, refuses to drain the country of it’s brain, considers changing his whole life around to deal with the trauma that the blasts bring about. R. Madhavan’s demure yet sure personality smoothly transforms into the troubled, paranoid Mumbaikar. Rupali, the most regular brand of TV reporter, refuses to believe that she’s not exclusive. You see Soha Ali Khan turn into a zombie from the confident, aspirational lady she starts out as.
Thomas is a good-hearted slum-dweller whose favorite pass-time is to silently observe the rich and their ways. Irrfan Khan with minimal dialogue manages to convince us of his need to avenge the rich and the self-imposed redemption thereafter. Suresh, a racist, makes everything he sees fit into his conspiracy theory. What more can such a person need to substantiate his argument than an act of terrorism? Suresh’s transformation seems the laziest cop-out but Kay Kay Menon, like always, gives the character the body language and attitude that it demands.
Tukaram Patil, at the end of his working life as a police officer, symbolizes the impotency of the police department. This clichéd character is one of the weakest ones. Paresh Rawal brings his amazing timing to the mostly well-crafted dialogues. His performance can certainly not be blamed for the character’s transition from a “go with the flow” attitude to giving “have better aims, do better with your life” sermons to his juniors. Any which way, one of the main purposes of the character seemed to be to thread the other characters together. The final speech that he gives seemed rather contrived, especially because the connection was not really necessary. Otherwise, the dialogues for all characters are charming because of their ruggedness.
You know what all this character development means, right? More run-time. And that is Mumbai Meri Jaan’s biggest drawback, even to a patient viewer like me. The climax is one of the most subtle, yet strongest ones I’ve seen in Hindi cinema in recent times. Only the story tellers have taken 20-25 minutes too many to get there. I wonder how much more compelling the climax would’ve been if it had come earlier, before the audience had time to get bored.
Albeit tongue-in-cheek and supremely clever, there’s an undercurrent of sarcasm running through the movie. This sarcasm points a big fat finger at the indifference of people towards others’ trauma. Now, taking a cue from the title, these people are from Mumbai. Sure, the climax serves as consolation for all the digs taken on Bombayites and ultimately it balances the tables. But, the effort to make it as unbiased as possible is unmistakable. And for that, despite being in love with Mumbai, I respect the story’s comment on its residents.
- meeta, a part of the audience
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This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.
A few days in the life of a city which has gone through a traumatic experience.