Reputed lawyer Murad Ali Muhammad (Rishi Kapoor) leads a happy life in Benaras with his family and friends until one day his nephew Shahid (Prateik Babbar) is nailed down by the anti-terrorist squad led by SSP Danish Javed (Rajat Kapoor) for killing 16 people in a bomb blast. Now, the entire family comes up as a suspect in the terrorist attack and thus follows up a court case where Murad’s daughter-in-law Aarti (Taapsee Pannu) takes up the responsibility of defending her family.
Will Aarti be able to fight the case successfully? Was any member of the family actually involved in the terror attack along with Shahid? Why did Shahid take up such a gory step?
Positive Points: –
- The acting performances especially that of Rishi Kapoor, Taapsee Pannu, Ashutosh Rana and Manoj Pahwa.
- Mulk attempts to enlighten the audience regarding the views of terrorism and the religious stigma associated with it and does it successfully.
- Movies like this often take sides blatantly but Mulk shows both sides of the story fairly, thus maintaining a rare but necessary balance between two different narratives.
- An engaging courtroom drama which makes the film stronger and grittier.
Negative Points: –
- The courtroom sequences, no matter how good, are portrayed quite inaccurately. Such blatant communalism and blasphemy are not showcased in the court of law especially by the judge.
- The screenplay lacks proper continuity and has many abrupt cuts which one might also blame upon the editing.
- As expected from a Bollywood film, Mulk relies too much on sentimentalities instead of brutal realism.
Direction, Screenplay & Other Technicalities: –
After a string of underwhelming or average quality flicks, Mulk is easily Anubhav Sinha’s best work till date. He has utilised the emotional potential of the story to the fullest and provided a more lucid perception regarding terrorism. Sinha doesn’t shy away from depicting the negatives or positives on both the sides of both the parties and has in fact portrayed things that are not basically talked about such as the stereotypical views Muslim officials themselves hold on their co-religionists. The first half of the film paces slowly but the second half becomes a lot more riveting. The legal punches become stronger and heavier as Ashutosh Rana and Taapse Pannu’s characters go head-on in proving each other wrong, much to the delight of the audience. The dialogues have been skillfully crafted so as to convey the crux of the story loudly and clearly but the setup itself was erroneous. Courts work in a much more professional manner than how it has been presented here. No doubt, lawyers showcase brutal demeanour in order to put down the other side but such open and unashamed denigration of religious sentiments doesn’t happen as it will make them liable to be punished under the contempt of the court. The same goes for the judges who are seldom taking sides openly in the courtroom as portrayed in Kumud Mishra’s character. However, it’s interesting to see that same character have a face turn later in the third act of the film and go on to impart an educative speech to everyone. You may call it impressive but I’ll prefer the word inconsistency for it.
There isn’t much special to note on the film technical aspects. The music is forgettable and could have been avoided. Ballu Saluja’s editing lacks sleekness and I’m not very sure whether the reason for the same was the erraticism of the writing or Saluja’s own faults.
Rishi Kapoor is sterling in his matured take on Murad and brings him as well as the film to life with his act and insight. He depicts both the strengths and weaknesses of his character effortlessly and quite conspicuously.
Ashutosh Rana is incredible and steals the show as the ruthless prosecutor. He delivers the message of the film through the counter-way and does it ably.
Taapse Pannu doesn’t do much for the most part of the film only to set the screen on fire towards the third act with her stellar act. She is a strong contender for the Best Supporting Actress award for following year’s awards ceremonies.
Manoj Pahwa might be popular for his impeccable comic timing but here he shows intense gravitas and proves his mettle as a versatile actor.
Prateik Babbar, Neena Gupta, Prachi Shah, Rajat Kapoor and Kumud Mishra do well in their respective roles.
Final Verdict: –
Maintaining balance in a potentially polarizing storyline isn’t an easy task but Anubhav Sinha does it with great mettle and insight. Mulk’s primary strength lies above its stupendous performances, in its message which portrays the virtues and vices of the society and its regulations pretty appropriately. You might question its cinematic facets but its thematic aspects are largely universal and excellent all way around. Don’t miss it at any cost!