Verdict: Sunny Deol impresses even in his non-action avatar.
Long stuck between PILs & censors, Mohalla Assi is a film that has been struggling for a release since many years. Based on Dr. Kashi Nath Singh‘s novel Kashi Ka Assi, the film revolves around the globalization of Varanasi and the fear of losing the essence of this pilgrim city.
What’s Mohalla Assi About:
The movie revolves around Dharmanath Pandey (Sunny Deol), a purohit with strong values and principles. He has orthodox beliefs and he also teaches Sanskrit to kids. He believes in his inherited castist morals and refrains from teaching foreigners the Hindi or Sanskrit language. But in the age where people are changing and adapting to a newer way of living, it is becoming difficult for him to save his heritage of morals and ideals.
Mohalla Assi gives voice to the values that Varanasi stands for through a single priest. It shows how culture and values mean entirely different things for different people. With a focus on the commercialization of the city, it has shown how people in the city are reaping benefits and while others are suffering simultaneously. With a very straightforward message, the film focuses entirely on the market of religion that is also used in politics and by the socialists. It also puts forward a point that beliefs are subject to change in these changing times.
We see a new side to Sunny Deol in Mohalla Assi and you feel connected to his character. Sakshi Tanwar is on top of her game with this one, both as a panditayan of Banaras and a purohit’s wife. Ravi Kishan as Kanni Guru is true to his character and makes you chuckle a few times too. All the supporting actors from Saurabh Shukla, Mukesh Tiwari to Rajendra Gupta are on point, especially in the political discussions made throughout the movie.
Mohalla Assi caters to a certain kind of filmgoers but it has its quirks to entertain everyone.
What Could’ve Been Better:
The movie has a lot of cuss words that might not be appreciated by all. There are censor mutes that make it difficult to comprehend a few scenes. The story sometimes feels haywire, probably because of the censor cuts, and it changes direction from one strong point to another abruptly. In an attempt to show a lot of things, the movie tends to miss out here and there.
Why You Should Watch:
The film captures the essence of the beautiful and serene Ganga river and the lives of the Brahmins that live there. It also focuses on the commercialization of the city and the way it is affecting it, all put together through a story of a single priest. It makes for an interesting watch and it is recommended for people who are interested in politics and of course, Varanasi.