Posted by Vivek on August 27, 2008 | No Comments

Caught a screening of the eagerly avaited Mumbai Meri Jaan, and have to  admit, if this was about the spirit of Mumbai, then one came out of the  theater feeling very dispirited.    In an audience of approx 40 people, in the Bay Area, this is what   worked in the film- Some very fine acting, good dialogues and fine   production values. Now the big drawback and bore. It was very, very   long. Paresh Rawal’s character while acting well, was very, very   preachy. Each of the stories seemed to start and stop and then start   and stop. If this was meant to be an Indian “Crash,” it was a crash all  right, of the screenplay.    In an ensemble movie, it is hard enough to build on one character arc and here the director/screenwriter built on 5-6, except they did not   move in the direction of “I care about this character.” It was too   shallow a level. As an example, Soha’s story in the film, came to a   conclusion by the Intermission and from there on it was just taking space. Talking heads, or too much dialogue, can mess up a screenplay. Paresh had a speech towards the end which went into 6-8 pages of screenplay. Writing 6-8 lines of continuous dialogue can wreath havoc, so imagine   what 6-8 pages can do. Although the underlying premise was very solid, it only showed one side  of the city and it’s inhabitants and if the theme was that, yes the   city has no soul at a higher level, but deep inside it does, then that   was not at all apparent, to the viewer, and that made it more   frustating, cause it had the makings of a very complelling screenplay, gone hopelessly wrong. Eg the soul of the city was depicted by a random  guy, making prank bomb threats, then seeing the consequences of his   action, suddenly giving a rose in redemption, hardly shows a soul at   all.

    Some characterizations also had a
flaw. Soha’s boyfriend is told   in the story to be a rising industrialist, then what is he doing in a   local train, when the mood of the city is that, if you can afford it   buy a car, and if you don’t then the city says you are flawed, as they tell Madhavan (which actually seem more real).Then Madhavan’s character  is shown to be a “plastic hating” environmentalist, yet he is shown probably a few scenes later, giving a friend (who is in hospital), some food in a ….you guessed it…plastic bag. Crash had different stories, but each had a strong character arc, well defined characters, and a natural progression to “coexistence.” Here it was KK blaming the Muslim community for all the ills in the city and   then suddenly the Muslim community being only “do gooders,” as far as his life is concerned, from giving him free tea, to giving him Shirdi Sai Baba prasad, to giving him business, again the point being in   scriptwriting it is mentioned you make a
point once and get on, don’t three or five way reempahsize the point, else it seems forced, especially in a film that is bordering on realism or at least attempting too.    One felt sad, cause this one had huge potential and the actors gave a   super performance. Can’t say the same to the screenwriter, director and  editor. It seemed to go on and on and if this was about the pulse of   Mumbai, then the pulse cannot all co exist in all the folks trying to   come to grips with life, in a city bustling with life.

    To be fair a   couple of audience members did stand up and applaud at the end, so   maybe I am being overtly harsh on the movie, and probably this will   make me unpopular, but the fact is, merely because you are trying   something different, doesn’t mean you don’t get the script reviewed by   a few objective sources and incorporate their feedback, cause if this is the “new age scripts” coming from Bollywood, then we are no better off than we were to start  with. By no means in the league of an Aamir, Jhonny Gaddar or a Manorma Six Feet Under, those were engaging or had a crisp pace and a solid story. This one is a documentary attempting to pass of as a feature and nothing wrong with a documentary, but if that is what it is call it   that, not sugarcoat it as a feature.

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