Hooch In Single Malt Bottle
A high concept film is a welcome change from the usual loud Bollywood love stories. But when all you see is a Zhang Yimou hangover on screen without the vision or the depth, you realise that it’s just a pretentious film. And the world that the characters in Mirzya occupy are neither ancient nor in the now. It’s a sad debut film of two young people who just go through the motions because everything is pretending to be art.
Pretentious (Adj.): Attempting to impress by affecting greater importance, talent, culture etc., than is actually possessed.
When will filmmakers learn that two people who know Shakespeare will not recite verses and say, ‘Shakespeare, right?’
The pretentiousness starts right there. But then we are already playing the game of Kings and Princesses (because everyone and their uncle is a king in Rajasthan!). And if someone told a modern woman that a true princess should know how to ride a horse, she would have said, ‘I fly planes’ or something, and never married the man who wanted her to learn this or that before she was worthy enough to be his wife.
But then this princess obeys, because she needs to later ask the lad she is running away with, ‘Petrol khatam ho gaya, now what do we do?’
When will we stop showing wilting violets and dare to give her a bow and arrow and fight like Gong Li?
The filmmaker has borrowed so extensively from Chinese epic period films (including the man bun), that you’d rather fast forward those parts and watch Jet Li in Hero instead. Not one spectacular memorable scene, we either get Punjabi songs sung on top of the octave, or South Indian background music. And the movie about a Punjabi folk tale is set in Rajasthan. But there are snow-clad mountains and Revenant like scenes of horses galloping through waters. Remember the beauty of Jet li’s sword touching the mirror like water before the fight? You get none of the beauty in the film and all the topographical confusion.
Shakespeare bhaiiya via Jaques in As You Like It says, 'And one man in his time plays many parts.' In this film, the director shows how in many lives you play the same part...
You do get slow motion dancing of what could only be the Greek Chorus of a dance troupe that is mostly in a collective orgasm (they appear many times through the film, to give you time to forget that story has not moved). Except when they’re play catch the hammers while dancing on the partially underground furnace. Then you wonder why they’re always working. Are they manufacturing guns for the army or are they making up for some huge backlog on bullock cart wheels?
The two young stars who make their debut as star-crossed lovers are saved from emoting by songs that interrupt and freeze their faces. Or the scene is cut to the past or the present or to Art Malik who plays the father of the heroine and really saves the film. Anjali Patil plays a more believable character than Saiyami Kher. Anuj Choudhry is good as the Prince Charming who turns out to be a beast. Why Om Puri was cast to read a couple of notes and spout three or four bit dialog, no one can guess. But it was fun watching the strange tree of 'Ishq Wala Love' from Student Of The Year shows up in the middle of nowhere for ancient Mirzya and his girl to rest under.
There are fifteen songs in the least, and stanzas broken up to make the 129 minute film feel ‘timeless’. But when you do get out of the warp, you paraphrase Shakespeare’s Scottish King: the film is ‘but a walking shadow, a poor player/ That struts and frets his hour upon the screen/And then is heard no more: it is a tale/ Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,/Signifying nothing.’
P.S. Why is Mirzya in both lifetimes so greasy and dirty? Does he work in a coal mine?