Cinema has come so far and wide today. Audiences no longer settle for a melodramatic storyline with a dying mother and songs featuring large mountains or plain fields. Today, the audiences of Indian cinema have realised what the industry is capable of and expect to see so much more on screen than what they were content with ten years ago. A movie like Maan Gaye Mughall-e-Azam illustrates this change immaculately! The movie is a patriotic comedy/action, which is quite a rare combination. Regardless of its unique genre, the movie manages to entertain and appeal.
Maan Gaye Mughall–e–Azam has already created preconceived notions because of its title, cast and promos. However, the movie turns out to be a lot different than expected.
The storyline in a nutshell is about a theatre group who specialize in re-enacting the famous play Mughal-e-Azam. However, this group is one of a kind because each actor has his or her own agenda. There’s Majumdar (Paresh Rawal) who plays Akbar, who has his eye on each and every person in the audience as well as Shabnam (Mallika Sherawat) who plays Anarkali, keeping each and every eye in the audience on her. Thus, every night, the audiences get to view something unique and different on the stage even if it’s the 120th show and that’s because every night one actor takes his or her agenda too far and the whole cast ends up improvising and thus putting on a new show each time.
So that puts ‘Mughal-E-Azam’ part of the movie in context and perhaps explains why we call it a comedy. Now to the patriotism and action! Enter Arjun Rastogi (Rahul Bose), who is a member of the audience that can’t take his eyes off of Shabnam. However, Arjun, like the cast, also has his own agenda. Arjun Rastogi is a special officer of the Research and Analysis Wing aka RAW and happened to meet the team of ‘Mughal-E-Azam’ whilst on a mission.As for the patriotism, all of this happens in February 1993, precisely one month before Black Friday, the tragic Mumbai bombings. To understand how a RAW officer and a theatre group collaborate in the spirit of patriotism, you’ll have to see this interesting film!
Writer and director Sanjay Chhel has always been one to deliver something unique and, if we may say so, wild! However, looking back at his filmography, Maan Gaye Mughall-e-Azam definitely has to be his most impressive work till date which allows him to take his biggest leap as a writer and director. With his dialogues, he really breaks boundaries. Comedy is perhaps one of the most sensitive and risky genres out there because it’s based on a 50/50 chance that the audience will either giggle their hearts away or dismiss the line completely. There is no common ground in between. This is something you can tell Sanjay Chhel understands very well because his one-liners have an effect that many long shot comic sequences don’t.
Unfortunately, the movie does fall short because if it was brilliant we would have said so in the first paragraph. The mistake made in the film is a common one and that is that the makers tried to encompass too many angles into one storyline. The movie purely based on comedy, action and patriotism works well however the underworld and romantic angle prove to be speed breakers and lack entertainment value. Song insertion in these dragged out angles also tends to bore. Especially the underworld angle where the comic sequences start to drag and become pointless after the first few minutes. What really dampens your spirits is that these portions take up a large chunk of the movie and could have been more effectively utilised in developing an already existing angle.
The screenplay drags in many portions, especially in the last hour of the movie, as the writers forget to build up to the climax. When the movie does reach its climax, you almost have to tap yourself awake and say ‘Oh wait, this is the ending!’ because there is no rising action before it. Writers often forget that when you’re taking the audience on a journey, you cannot be walking on steadily and suddenly start sprinting. In order for the audiences to enjoy the journey and remain entertained throughout, you need to gradually build up the pace in order to keep everyone awake and on the edge of their seats in anticipation of the climax.
In all other technical areas the movie manages to impress, especially in choreography (Piyush Panchal). Even if they weren’t immaculately placed in the script, which mostly goes for ‘Marmari Baahen’ which could have easily be edited off, the title song and ‘Ishqaiyaan’ are well-shot and choreographed. However, what stands out more than the choreography is that the theme of Mughal-e-Azam is so well incorporated in the costumes and sets. For this, two thumbs up to both the costume designers and art directors! The choreography by Saroj Khan in ‘Ishqaiyaan’ proves that the woman who has seen decades of Indian cinema will never loose her touch. Even in an unconventional movie and song, she excels in every way and perhaps Mallika’s phenomenal expressions and elegant gestures are the perfect addition to this dance master’s work of art.
Regardless of what the fate of the movie is, you know that with a cast like this you can expect phenomenal performances. Rahul Bose appears in a new avatar once again. He excels in his comic sequences, actions sequences and also in the dramatic portions. We’ve seen him charm us earlier this year in dramatic portions in the outstanding Shaurya and this film gives the exceptional actor the chance to show his versatility. Mallika Sherawat without a doubt is one of the finest artists we have amongst us today even if she doesn’t get much credit. The actress becomes one with the character and you never for a moment doubt her as she is so believable! The woman was born to be on-screen. Paresh Rawal doesn’t surprise one bit, and that’s because we know the actor is flawless in every way possible. Kay Kay Menon sadly is wasted as his role is rather limited and pointless to the script. Perhaps he is the only disappointment, performance-wise.
In totality, Maan Gaye Mughall-e-Azam has its major flaws but what keeps you in the cinema hall throughout the duration is an exciting story-telling style, the various genres, hilarious one-liners and flawless performances. All in all, though flawed, this is an impressive film to be enjoyed by all!