Do watch Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola (Vishal Bharadwaj, 2013), not for what it delivers, but what it intends, the performances, and the laughs. Having said that, I must say that I was disappointed by the film. While film has been widely categorized as a romantic comedy, the great potential of it becoming a unique political drama was washed away. I am disheartened by Vishal Bharadwaj making a film where the feelings and interests of a few men overshadow the larger issues around.
In a country with 85% people belonging to the community of farmers, industrial or farm workers, potters, shepherds and weavers; where obviously land stands out as the single largest unaddressed issue for the poor, Bharadwaj makes a film which starts brilliantly with the issue of the poor villagers’ living in the threat of loosing their farmlands to an industrialist, played by Pankaj Kapoor. Ironic enough, the film ends with the villager’s communist leader (played brilliantly by Imran Khan, who disguises himself as Mao) marrying the industrialist’s daughter, and all the characters dancing as the credits roll. The villager’s fate remain undetermined. While one may argue that with the change of heart of the industrialist, the villagers’ problems will perish, I beg to differ. Land or no-land, the villagers continue to live under the mercy of the industrialist with no dignity – a distasteful way to close a film with such great possibilities!
Compare the film with Peepli Live (Anusha Rizvi, 2010). ‘Peepli’ addresses farmer suicide and the subsequent media and political response head on, and the brilliant performances and dark humor only supports the story. ‘Mathru’ on the other hand picks up an equally brilliant plot. The first half shows the proceedings of village panchayats and the importance of timely rains, quality seeds and good storage facilities. The second half suddenly picks up a so-far-seemingly-unimportant love story and takes it to the conclusion. I would have lesser complaints if the film was out-rightly hilarious – without its long melodramatic sequences and the inconclusive sub-plots like Anushka Sharma’s public bathing, Imran Khan and Anushka Sharma planning the murder of Arya Babbar, or the romantic scenes between Pankaj Kapoor and Shabana Azmi.
Anyways, the film is still far better than the mindless cinema being made during recent times. ‘Matru’ will stand out as a film with good intent, great performances, and greater possibilities lost in time.