‘Maan Gaye Mughal-e-Azam’ boringly unfunny (Film Review)

August 23rd, 2008 - 3:36 pm ICT by IANS  

Film: “Maan Gaye Mughal-e-Azam”; Cast: Rahul Bose, Mallika Sherawat, Kay Kay Menon, Paresh Rawal, Pavan Malhotra; Director: Sanjay Chhel; Rating: *This film means to be quirky, cute and comical. It ends up being a crashing bore. And the sound of the crash that you hear could be those plaster-of-paris props that adorn the stage where the cast enacts the worst version of K. Asif’s imperishable romance “Mughal-e-Azam” ever conceived.

As often happens, the film must have sounded so much better on paper. All the accomplished actors who constitute the vast cast must have got the joke and agreed to do this intended satire about the goofy adventures of a stage troupe during the week of the 1993 Mumbai blasts.

Alas, Asif weeps in his grave. And so do we.

This is a political satire combined with a naughty comment on theatrical infidelity with Paresh’s sexy wife Mallika being wooed by a smitten Rahul (suitably wide-eyed and far removed from his Mallika-driven affections in “Pyar Ke Side Effects”).

Kay Kay, who had done a serious gritty film on the bomb blasts in “Black Friday”, slips into its satirical interpretation with astonishing fluency. As a bumbling cheesy ghazal singer with terrorist links (remember Naseeruddin Shah in “Sarfarosh”?), Kay Kay brings a sparkling tongue-in-cheek quality to the goings-on, a sparkle that the film doesn’t deserve. It fails to earn itself the committed devotion of such a distinguished cast.

Pavan, another fine actor, is also delightfully over-the-top as a sleazy gangster who gets as confused about the characters played by Kay Kay and Paresh (a bit of Kundan Shah’s “Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron” here) as we are about this film’s intentions.

Is this a theatrical film on play-acting? Or is it meant to be a cinematic interpretation of theatrical hi-jinks? Be that as it may, while Kay Kay goes from “Black Friday” to goofy Friday, Mallika (god bless her costume designers) goes from “Murder” to blue murder. Watching her do a re-mix of “Pyar kiya to darna kya”, Madhubala must be smirking in her grave.

If Mallika’s “Murder” on infidelity was a path-breaker (at least as far as sexual audacity goes) her attempts to flirt from the pokey stage with her besotted spectator right under her suspicious husband’s watchful eyes can at best be described as “Pati Patni Aur Woh” gone to the dogs.

Chhel has always been a capable wordsmith. As a director, he had his polished moments in “Khubsoorat” where Sanjay Dutt turned ugly duckling Urmila Matondkar into a swan.

One is never sure if Mallika is the duck or swan in “Maan Gaye Mughal-e-Azam”. All one knows at the end of this horrifically hammy ode to a hammy theatre company’s outrageous attempts to save Mumbai from the underworld (yeah, but who saves us from this film?) is that there is no more than perhaps seven minutes of bonafide humour in the entire tale.

The dialogues are either dreadfully double-meaning or primary school gags. RDX and R.D. Burman are equated for laughs. But the film has neither Burman’s melodiousness now the explosive quality of RDX.

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