Verdict: Mulk is a mindful representation of Indian Muslims.
Mulk is releasing at the perfect time – a couple of weeks before Independence Day. Amidst the politically-fueled atmosphere, Mulk carries its own message and urges you to introspect, with reason. Rishi Kapoor is back where he belongs – in a powerful movie with a supporting cast as strong as the movie’s screenplay. Directed by Anubhav Sinha and shot mostly in Lucknow and Varanasi, Mulk is not a film worth missing out on.
What’s Mulk About:
Right at the start of the film, we are introduced to the happy family of Murad Ali Mohammed (brilliantly portrayed by Rishi Kapoor) in Varanasi. Murad Ali is a distinguished lawyer and the patriarch of a joint family. Bilal Mohammed (Manoj Pahwa), Murad Ali’s younger brother, owns an electronic store and they all live in their ancestral home. Their means are limited but they seem happy with each other. Murad Ali is an educated and a good-natured man, who drinks chai on the nukkad with his friends Sonkar and Chaubey. Also, a part of the family is Bilal’s young son, Shahid Mohammed (Prateik Babbar). Murad’s son is married to Aarti Malhotra, now Aarti Mohammed (Taapsee Pannu), and they live in Germany. Murad is about to turn 65 and his beloved daughter-in-law Aarti, also a lawyer, visits them for the same. All seems to be going okay but not for long, as you find out soon. Meanwhile, Shahid heads to Kanpur to “watch a cricket match”. However, unbeknownst to his family, Shahid partakes in a bombing in a bus in Allahabad and is caught on a CCTV footage. ACP Danish Javed (Rajat Kapoor) begins the pursuit of Shahid. Meanwhile, Bilal is brought in for questioning. Everything takes a nose dive as soon as Murad Ali is under the scanner as well. It is now up to Aarti to fight the case to restore her family’s respect. It is her burden to fight the prosecution’s prejudice, along with a case that may change the family’s fate forever.
Today’s environment is rife with anticipation regarding the next year’s elections. Mulk comes in at the right time, favoring no point of view and admirably so. This representation of the Muslim community is probably the most logically befitting and pragmatic one. Apart from highlighting the prejudice the world has against the Muslim community, it sends a clear message – based on sound reasoning – that Islam does not equal terrorism and this mindset needs to change. Rishi Kapoor’s performance is flawless. The veteran actor is unrecognizable, not only with his looks but also with respect to enunciation and dialogue delivery. There’s something about the Tapsee-court combination – it always wins. This time around, Tapsee plays a Hindu girl married into a Muslim family and also a lawyer who defends her family’s name. The supporting cast is strong and includes names like Neena Gupta, Kumud Mishra, Rajat Kapoor, and Ashutosh Rana. Mulk is quite intricately layered as it touches upon racial and communal subtext, a family’s ordeal when their young son is a proven terrorist and boosts your faith in the judicial system. The writing is fantastic as is the camera work. The editing leaves nothing to desire as the film is crisp with zero non-sense. One of the best parts of the film is the verdict announced by Judge Madhok (played with elan by Kumud Mishra). It’s one of the best pieces you’ll hear when it comes to the topic.
What Could’ve Been Better:
As this is a Bollywood mainstream film, there is a little bit of avoidable melodrama towards the end but given how the subject has been handled (with extreme mindfulness, that’s how), this can be ignored.
Why You Should Watch:
Mulk has a good story and a gripping narrative, embellished by flawless and intense performances by great actors. Moreover, Mulk uses logic to argue their points and that’s something so rare. A few moments in the film will give you a jolt, some will make you emotional, while most of the times, the film will command your attention. This film is a must-watch for everyone who likes terrific cinema, who are interested in politics, and those are looking to find logic in Bollywood movies. Book tickets for Mulk this weekend without a second thought.