Rarely do we witness such Bollywood movies in the 21st century, where everything about the movie is out in the open, even before it has hit the theaters. But not Mulk, starring actors Rishi Kapoor, Taapsee Pannu and Ashutosh Rana in prominent roles, the movie was presented as a gritty, hard hitting ‘social drama’, that asked some uncomfortable questions to the present Indian society. Is it really so? I’ll try to answer this question in my review of the movie Mulk.
Mulk Review – The Plot: –
The Mohammed family led by acclaimed advocate Murad Ali Mohammed [Rishi Kapoor] is a respectable clan living in the heart of the holy city of Varanasi. They wholeheartedly accept their Hindu daughter in law, Aarti [Taapsee Pannu], a London based lawyer, who comes home as a surprise on the occasion of Murad Ali’s upcoming birthday.
However, all hell breaks loose, when Shahid [Prateik Babbar], the son of Murad’s younger brother Bilal [Manoj Pahwa], joins hands with terrorists in executing serial bomb blasts in Allahabad, for which he is soon shot dead by the anti-terrorist squad led by Danish Javed.
As if that’s not enough, Bilal and Murad are soon arrested and accused of being hand in glove with the slain Shahid. How the family, led by Aarti proves their innocence is what forms the plot of this movie.
Mulk Review – The Bad: –
Despite earnest dedication, Mulk falls flat on the very premise that is the soul of any movie: gripping content.
Neither can we empathize with the troubles of the family in question, nor can we feel the goosebumps when Aarti delivers an ‘emphatic’ speech in the courtroom during the climax. The drama looks more fake and stereotyped than real, and an amateur can be easily forgiven for perceiving this movie as a botched, but venomous propaganda.
From the moment Shahid’s role in Allahabad blasts is exposed, Mulk reveals its true colors and without any shame, it goes into apologetic mode, ranting against the establishment and accusing Indians, especially Hindus of being intolerant towards the Muslims.
Mulk Review – The Ugly:-
The ugly part about Mulk is the approach of the people at the helm. From director Anubhav Sinha, to actor Taapsee Pannu, who has taken it upon herself to spread misleading propaganda through this movie, the film reeks more of hypocrisy than a genuine attempt to ask some hard hitting questions. If Mulk aims at reducing ‘Islamophobia’, I’m sorry to say but instead of doing that, it has only intensified the ‘Hinduphobia’ Bollywood is often accused of. For Rishi Kapoor, the less said, the better.
One should’ve got a whiff of the agenda behind this movie, as Anubhav Sinha mocked people for questioning the motives behind the film. One of the prime messages of Mulk is that one community should not be entirely painted as guilty for the deeds of a few. Yet, they stereotype all the Hindus in this movie, except for the protagonist of course, as inherently intolerant and communal in approach.
If you don’t believe us, observe the character of the prosecution lawyer Santosh Anand, played by a wily Ashutosh Rana. Often a part of some of the shamelessly stereotyped upper caste Hindu villains in the movies of the 90s, and just recently essaying the role of a menacing politician in ‘Dhadak’, Ashutosh Rana stereotypes his character in the most ludicrous way possible. Even the role of Atul Tiwari, as the paan seller, has been deliberately created so as to show how hypocrite all Hindus are.
Interestingly, as later revealed in an interview with online portal “The Lallantop”, Ashutosh laughed creepily on hearing about his role, as revealed by the director himself, and that speaks volumes about his priorities of choosing a role. Never has a movie been so blatantly Hinduphobic as Mulk.
If the Hindu shaming by Bollywood on Kathua case was a trailer, Mulk is just the extended version on silver screen. We’re only surprised as to how Shri Anubhav Sinha didn’t think of mocking ‘gau rakshaks’ for more brownie points. Anurag Kashyap did that expertly in Mukkabaaz.
Another thing that Mulk is guilty of is the demonization of the police forces. The way Aarti grills the no nonsense cop Danish Javed [Rajat Kapoor] on the issue of the encounter of Shahid, we are made to feel as if the police have done some crime by gunning down a terrorist. That’s selective outrage for you, right here.
Mulk Review – Is there anything even good:-
Though a shameless propaganda demeaning assertive nationalism and the Hindu community as usual, Mulk has few appreciable moments. During one of the intense scenes, when some sympathizers try to deride people painting ‘Pakistanis’ on his house, Murad Ali Mohammed, in a fit of rage, accuses the wily Islamists of maligning the Muslims’ reputation by bursting crackers when India loses any sporting match against Pakistan.
Also, one of the very few actors who managed to impress without raising any eyebrows were Kumud Mishra as the judge of the movie, and Rajat Kapoor as the no nonsense cop Danish Javed, who is in a crossfire for doing his duty towards the nation and is forced to prove that he did not do anything wrong. If it were not for the underlying demonization of the police forces, Rajat Kapoor could’ve been the standout performance of this otherwise venomous movie.
To be frank, what Mulk should’ve been about, if it really cared for Muslims, is to choose a right role model in order to be accepted by all. Instead, it turns out to be the same old story that is being painted by elite Bollywood since 1947: excessive minority appeasement, followed by shameless hypocrisy and Hinduphobia.
Had it been really a social drama, Mulk could’ve been an eye opener for many. But excessive propaganda deprives Mulk of any sympathy by Indians, especially after the Kathua case exposed the deep running Hinduphobia among the elite Bollywood. Mulk is not even a mediocre film; it is a testament to the wilful ignorance that makes Bollywood a laughing stock around the world.
If not for a few moments of respite, Mulk deserves zero out of five stars. However, I’d still go with 1 from 5 stars.