Isn’t this the same country that cheered for a Muslim Protagonist Faizal Khan as he pumped bullets in the body of a Hindu villain Ramdheer Singh? Did Anurag Kashyap feel the need of repeatedly telling the audience that Ramdheer was an upper caste Hindu Bahubali to make the audience hate him? No, Ramdheer Singh destroying 3 generations of the Khan family makes you hate him automatically. Gangs of Wasseypur was so beautifully made that demarcations like Hindu, Muslim, upper and lower caste don’t even come to your mind while watching the movie. 6 years later, Anurag Kashyap makes Mukkabaaz, that I happened to watched on Jio movies last night. Mukkabaaz is nothing but a repackaging of 90’s style cinema where there is an absolutely lovable hero who wants to make it big and there is an absolutely loathsome villain who wants to destroy the hero at any cost. But there is a catch, the villain is a Brahmin and there is no subtlety in his being a Brahmin, he wears his Brahmin identity on his sleeve.
Meet Bhagwan Das Mishra (Jimmy Shergill), a Bahubali from Bareilly with connections in politics and sports federations. Mishra runs a boxing Akhada. His boxers are his errand boys, his cooks, his masseuses and even his mercenaries. Bhagwan Das Mishra makes it a point to mention it several times in the movie that he is a Brahmin and his will reigns supreme. He is a failed boxer and has grudges with budding young boxers. The most talented boxer in his Akhada, Shravan Singh (Vineet Kumar Singh) turns rebel and Bhagwan Das Mishra is possessed with an irrepressible urge of destroying his career.
Mishra has every trait that constitutes a villain. He is shallow, he is vile, he is petty, and to add to it he hates everyone who is not a Brahmin. He has kept his entire family captive, treats his elder brother like a servant and slaps his niece (who later falls in love with Shravan) for no reason. Mishra has a unique way of settling scores. He gets his men to put beef in the houses of unsuspecting adversaries and his men do the rest. They pose as Gau-Rakshaks and beat the shit out of the beef eaters. The movie in fact starts with his men beating somebody for consuming beef. Mishra doesn’t consider Shravan a Kshatriya and suspects that he could be from an inferior caste. Mishra offers his urine to Shravan and asks him to gulp it down as an act of repentance. In another instance, a Varanasi coach (Ravi Kissen) is humiliated by Mishra and offered water in another jug when he confesses that he is a Dalit. Later, the same coach is beaten to pulp by Mishra’s Gau Rakshak brigade after he is tricked into receiving a pot of beef from a neighbor’s house. The temple in the locality announces the entire episode over a loudspeaker.
When you are done watching the movie, one line echoes from the movie in your cerebral chambers:
“Hum Brahmin hai, hum aadesh lete nahi dete hain” (I am a Brahmin, I don’t take orders, I give them)
Mukkabaaz presents Brahmins as the ultimate baddies and Anurag Kashyap makes no efforts to conceal it. The Brahmin bashing in this movie is unsubtle and in your face. In fact, Anurag Kashyap glamorizes a Brahmin’s hatred for other castes. The clever use of Gau-Rakshak brigade almost convinces you that there could be a Brahmin Bahubali in some nondescript town of Uttar Pradesh, expertly choreographing everything. Anurag Kashyap doesn’t even care to talk about the cow smuggling menace in Uttar Pradesh and other parts of the country. The reality that the cow smugglers have killed so many people who dared to stand in their way and mowed down cops who chased them is nowhere to be seen in this movie.
This movie marks the fall of a very talented film director. Anurag Kashyap allowed his own prejudices to cloud his judgement. Mukkabaaz is nothing but a cinematic version of what Anurag Kashyap believes in. It’s sad and almost tragic that the man who gave us Gangs of Wasseypur, India’s answer to Goodfellas, has made something as ridiculous as Mukkabaaz. The movie could have been a good one, but Anurag Kashyap’s prejudiced shaping of it prevented that from happening.
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