Movie tackles head on prejudice against Muslims in India…
By Suman Bhuchar
DIRECTED by Anubhav Sinha, this is a timely political thriller exploring how Muslims can be demonised through fear, prejudice and vicious rumour.
Rishi Kapoor is in fine fettle as patriarch lawyer, ‘Murad Ali Mohammed’, who is part of the local neighbourhood of his hometown of Benares (Varanasi) and counts among his friends, many Hindus who go to his parties and sneakily eat a kebab or two!
Everyone deserts him when it is discovered that his nephew, Shahid (Prateik Babbar) is involved in a bomb blast.
Before too long, his family is hounded, his brother, Bilal Mohammed (Manoj Pahwa) is accused of aiding and abetting the terrorists and so begins the long process of having to prove your loyalty to a country that has always been your home.
Then there is the character of an over-zealous cop, ‘Danish Javed’ (Rajat Kapoor), who’s convinced all Muslims are bad because as a minority himself, he doesn’t want to be seen as being lenient or biased.
Much of the action takes place in a court room where the theatrical prosecutor, ‘Santosh Anand’ (Ashutosh Rana), uses all the stereotypical arguments to demonise Muslims – they are ill educated, have too many children and one child is “always given away to terrorism”.
Without revealing the plot, it is obvious that this case (adapated from true events) is based on bigotry and hearsay, with Taapsee Pannu – as ‘Arti Mohammed’ – the daughter-in-law of Murad Ali who defends him and finally restores the family honour.
There are some long monologues about ‘Us’ and ‘Them’, and does having a beard makes you a terrorist? How will you prove you are a Good Muslim on Judgement day? And tradition versus home.
This is a good attempt at a difficult subject and the film makes a plea for plurality and understanding.
The best lines belong to the Judge (Kumud Mishra) who sums up everything (spoiler alert!) by advising – “don’t give speeches in the temple or do ‘puja’ (worship) in parliament, then everything will be fine”.
ACV rating *** (out of five)
‘Mulk’ is out on release now globally…