Movie Review
Mubarakaan:Hold the jappis

Story: Rupinder Chahal, Balwinder Singh Janjua Screenplay: Balwinder Singh Janjua Dialogue: Rajesh Chawla

‘Mubarakaan’ is just the name of the film; I doubt if that’s what the box office is saying, so no need to go overboard with the badhais and jappis.

Anees Bazmi, at the directorial helm of this one, decided to stick to the tried-and-tested formula of twin brothers, played by Arjun Kapoor. They were to be brought up by their chacha Kartar (Anil Kapoor) after their father (Sanjay Kapoor in a cameo) met with a car accident. However, as Kartar was a bachelor he gave one baby to his elder sister (Ratna Pathak Shah) in London and the other to his elder brother Baldev (Pavan Malhotra) in Chandigarh – and so Karan is brought up as a cool, hep youngster while Charan is a pucca sardar.

Both the boys have girlfriends; Karan has been going steady with Sweety (Ileana D’Cruz) while Charan is smitten by Nafisa (Neha Sharma.) And then Mr Sandhu (Rahul Dev) decides to get his daughter Binkle (Athiya Shetty) married to Karan, his business partner’s son. Karan is ostensibly in Chandigarh to learn about the restaurant business but has actually followed sweetheart Sweety back to her hometown and he inveigles things so that it is Charan who flies to London with Baldev, for Binky’s rishta.

Now, Charan is this simple, “haanji papaji” god-fearing lad who is unable to go against his papa, much less tell him he is in love with a Muslim girl and so he asks chacha Kartar to help him. Chacha comes up with the fruity idea of pretending Charan is a drug addict, so that the Sandhus will call off the rishta, however, he has reckoned without bhatija’s dil going “dhak dhak” at the sight of Binkle. Things get fairly heated among the assorted parents as Mr Sandhu buys into the whole druggie act; insults fly fair and foul and matters reach a head with Baldev storming off from London declaring he will get Charan married to a suitable girl within a month.

We can now see what’s coming a mile ahead! There’s a merry mix about the boys and their actual girlfriends, Kartar keeps coming up with whacky schemes to save the day, there’s lots and lots of trite Punjabi-isms – in fact, there’s an overdose of Punjabiness that is supposed to stitch the holes in the script together! Unnecessary shots of Guru Nanakji’s photos and various gurudwaras and references to “Babaji” pepper the plot, to convince you this really IS a movie about Punjabis! Possibly the only kahani mein twist moment is when Nafisa falls in love with Binkle’s brother within hours, leaving the field open for Charan and Binkle!

Given the scope for endearing badmashi that his role had, Anil Kapoor is surprisingly lacklustre, displaying none of the elan and energy of ‘Welcome,’ even though he does pull himself together in certain scenes. One wishes he wouldn’t attempt to speak English with an accent, because he only ends up mangling the language! It is strange that he seemed almost distracted through the movie; one would have thought he’d try harder to prop up nephew Arjun’s performance. Ileana D’Cruz holds her own admirably. Athiya Shetty is barely there and when she is, it’s a wide-eyed and confused look. Karan Kundra as Binkle’s brother alternated between constipated vs agonized expression. Pavan Malhotra is a superb actor; he didn’t really need to bluster his way through the movie and generally behave like a keg of dynamite about to blow. By the by, whoever thought Ratna Pathak Shah could pull off a Punjabi accent and dialogues needs a CT scan!

It must be said that, while Arjun Kapoor is no great shakes as a dancer, he has literally put his best foot forward and displays considerable enthusiasm in the song-and-dance routines, which carries it through. It is a pity that choreographer Ahmed Khan could not harness this enthu and think of better steps for the junior AK than hopping about on one foot and literally beating his chest! On the acting front, playing the goofy buddhu comes naturally to him and so Charan is a cakewalk. As Karan, he’s naughty and effervescent. The look is just right too; funky hairstyle, neatly trimmed beard, casual clothes (looking a bit bulky, though.) The lad (sic!) has clearly put in a lot of earnest effort on his performance and one hopes the audiences will be kinder to him that they are to the movie.

Mr Bazmee sees fit to start his movie off almost immediately with a song – who even does that anymore?! – following a hastily improvised car accident. The wedding climax scene gets unnecessarily soppy – and lengthy – at the end, simply so Anil Kapoor can have a monologue. Editor Rameshwar S. Bhagat should have done a better job of splicing together the scenes.

The music has been composed by Amaal Malik, Gourov Roshin and Rishi Rich, with lyrics by Kumaar. Although none of the songs are unforgettable gems, they are hummable, especially the title track which is a good dance number, ‘Hawa Hawa’ sung in Mika Singh’s inimitable style and ‘Jatt Jaguar’ by Vishal Dadlani and Navraj Hans.

The camera has been brilliantly wielded by Himman Dhamija. There is an absolutely stunning, panoramic shot of Harmandir Sahab, lovingly captured by his lens, giving us a unique dimension apart from the stereotyped Golden Temple shots.

Written by Rupinder Chahal, the screenplay is by Balwinder Singh Janjua and Gurmmeet Singh. I know that we Punjabis are good for many a laugh and the sardars especially for their joie de vivre, the bhangra and the balle balle but really, you cannot hope to carry an entire film based on these flimsy hinges. The twin brothers have absolutely no feeling of angst at having being separated thus at birth. Charan is remarkably confused about what “love” is and shows no sardar spunk at all.

The dialogues however, are by Rajesh Chawla and, to give credit where it is due, some of them are quite funny. Kudos to the writing team on one point at least - I think the scene in the mall where Sweety first meets Karan’s mummy has been well fleshed out and Ileana delivers her lines with aplomb.

 Anees Bazmee is no writer, as he has proved from his puerile efforts earlier (‘Bol Radha Bol,’ ‘Gopi Kishen,’ ‘Raju Chacha’) and so he would not have been a good judge of how thinly the script has been stretched out. As a director, he has given us laugh riots like ‘Singh is King’,’ ‘No Entry’ and ‘Welcome’ in the past, all of which not only had relatively well-knit scripts (albeit with some silly dialogues) but also the zest and zing of the cast. In ‘Mubarakaan,’ despite the AK angle – or rather, triangle! the bonhomie between the actors is missing and it is like each is giving a solo performance. While ‘tis often said that a director is the captain of the ship, Bazmee is clearly a director who relies on the writers and actors to bring his ship safely into port.


   Punam Mohandas

Punam Mohandas is a journalist and author who is also a film buff, accomplished travel writer and an expert on South Asia. She also writes columns on film personalities. She has lived and worked in India, Dubai and Bangkok.

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