Subhash K Jha speaks about Maan Gaye Mughal-E-Azam!

By Subhash K. Jha, Bollywood Hungama News Network

So what do we do with this one? Maar diya jaaye ke chod diya jaaye? This film means to be cocky, quirky, and cutely 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 it often happens, the film must have sounded so much better on paper. All the accomplished actors who constitute the vast cast must have read into the purported humor 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 smitten Romeo Rahul Bose (suitably wide-eyed and far removed from his Mallika-driven affections in Pyaar Ke Side Effects).

Kay Kay Menon 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 neither deserves nor earns itself the committed deviation of such a distinguished cast. Another fine actor Pawan Malhotra 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 Jane 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 as it might, while Kay Kay goes from Black Friday to Bakwas Friday, Mallika (god bless her costume designers) goes from Murder to Blue Murder. And 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 pathbreaker (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 describes as Pati Patni Aur Woh gone to the dogs.

Writer-director Sanjay Chhel has always been a capable wordsmith. As a director, he had his polished moments in Khubsoorat where Sanjay Dutt turned ugly duckling Urmila into a swan. One is never sure if Mallika is the duck or swan in Maan Gaye Mughall-e-whatever. 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 humor in the entire length and breadth of the tale. The dialogues are either dreadfully double meaning or primary school gags. RDX and R.D Burman are equated for laughs. The film lacks RD's melodiousness and the RDX's explosive quality to make this film a blast.

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