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Directed By: Anurag Kashyap
Cast: Vineet Kumar Singh, Jimmy Shergill, Zoya Hussain, Ravi Kishan
Language: Hindi and Sign
“Bharat Mata Ki Jai”
In Mukkabaaz, Anurag Kashyap is back with a bang and this time has taken us to Bareilly to witness a brawler become a boxer in his quest for love. And in this quest he not only has to fight bhagwaan (quite literally) but also inter-cast marriage, casteism, reverse casteism and corruption.
This old school love story doesn’t waste time in introducing the characters- in the first scene itself Shravan Kumar (Vineet Kumar Singh) falls in love with Sunaina (Zoya Hussain) who happens to be the Bhagwaan Das’s(Jimmy Shergill) niece and in the process of serenading her ends up punching Bhagwaan. From there on both of them have a single mission in life: Shravan’s is to become a national level boxer and eventually marry Sunaina while Bhagwan’s is do to everything to stop Sharavan from doing so. Who eventually wins the battle forms the rest of the plot.
Vineet Kumar has punched above his weight and delivered a standout performance. Whether it be the blushing and the romance or the fights or the despair in search of Sunaina are intense. And the fact that it is his story with boxing as the theme gives it a Rocky like feel to it. His body is puffed up and the attempt to become a boxer (Mukkebaaz) from a Mukkabaaz (brawler) is sincere. Jimmy Shergill is a wonderful actor and has always given believable performances in villainous roles. I think he is born for these type of intense roles. I am happy that his character is black in entirety with no shade of grey. He is pure evil, with no love in him. He beats women, is a chauvinist and feels entitled because he is a brahmin. Zoya Hussain, a new comer, plays a mute girl who talks with her eyes. She is beautiful, stubborn and feisty as she packs a punch of her own. She is a rebel who would not be bogged down by her godfatheresque uncle and has ambitions much beyond becoming a housewife.
And its not just these three, the supporting cast have also done an awesome job. Ravi Kishan (a legend of Bhojpuri cinema) as Sanjay Kumar is colossal in his role as the lower caste coach who agrees to train Shravan when everyone has washed their hands off him. It is a very restrained and dignified performance. Kashyap has a bit of Tarantino in him and he creates some amazing characters and interactions between them, here too Shravan has an English speaking friend and the scenes with him are absolutely hilarious, as are with his mother and father.
Its a typical Anurag Kashyap entertainer in which the dialogues are rustic and brilliant and they stay with you long after the movie has finished. Kashyap is a master of details- from the dialect to the violence, everything gives you the feel of UP. This movie like his other movies also has touched upon a lot of social issues prevalent in the country- wherever Shravan goes his caste follows. But the movie is not just a fight of lower caste v/s upper caste- there is also reverse casteism when his boss gives him a lot of trouble in the lowly Railways job because Shravan belongs to an upper caste than him and finally he has the upper hand. And of course there is the issue of corruption- Bhagwaan Das runs the state boxing federation as his personal fiefdom and no one dare oppose his diktats. Kashyap has also touched upon cow- vigilantism and very cheekily brought in the hooliganism and personal vendetta being extracted under the garb of gau mata and Bharat mata ki jai!
In spite of the movie covering a lot of social issues it does not feel preachy and that is a win as Anurag Kashyap aces this love story and makes your 155 minutes absolutely worth it.