Movie Review: Mumbai Meri Jaan -Saluting the Spirit of Bombay

August 25, 2008
Gauri Warudi

Mumbai meri jaan - oh yes!

Director Nishikant Kamath (of Dombivali Fast fame) has painted on a huge canvas, a picture of M'me Mumbai in all her resplendence, her beauty, her ugliness, her moles, her warts and her dimples. Her warmth, her wickedness, her attractive side and her terrible appearance. In all its starkness. No frills, no make-up.

It should come as no surprise that Kamath has managed to capture the raw emotions and the hostility of Mumbai in its whole self. The insecurities, the smugness of Mumbaikars, the envy, the hatred and the warmth and spirit and will to survive against all odds.

Amidst the insecurities, amidst the deep distress and urge to runaway, the fear factor of living in India (not just Mumbai) post the 1993 blasts, post 7/11 - it is all laid bare on this huge canvas that Kamath calls Mumbai Meri Jaan. This is his debut Hindi film.

For those of us, who have been brought up and lived in Mumbai all through our growing years, but had to move out for various reasons, this film is nostalgia, for good and bad reasons.

Five parallel stories, five lives that are affected by the 7/11 local train blasts in Mumbai, is what makes up Mumbai Meri Jaan. With an almost perfect casting and a neat script, MMJ couldn’t have worked any better. Kamath has everything in place.

MMJ is not so much about HOW the blasts happened, but HOW it affected the lives of ordinary people. Paresh Rawal as head constable Tukaram Patil and KK Menon as Suresh, an out-of-work computer salesman with his bigoted views, are like any other person you’d meet on the streets or the local trains of Mumbai. So is Maddy (Madhavan) as Nikhil, a software guy, who is torn between his heart(which wants to improve India) and mind which screams, US!!

Soha Ali Khan as the TV reporter Rupali Joshi, who has until 7/11merrily joined in the news channel’s TRP bandwagon, sensationalizing every incident, faces the camera as a victim/subject of coverage, when her fiancé dies in the blasts. “Rupali Joshi reporting”.simply becomes just another program titled “Rupali bani Rudali”, highlighting the insensitivity of TV channels to human emotions.

Irrfan Khan as the ‘tambi’ cyclist kaapi-wala, who envies the rich, and gets his own kicks out of creating fear in the ‘mall crowd’ does complete justice to his character, which craves for forgiveness and awaits redemption from his guilt, after realising his folly.

Besides histrionics, which are the undisputed strength of the film, the camera work is impressive and the cleverly crafted train blast leaves you numb. By far Paresh Rawal is brilliant in his portrayal of Patil. Special mention must be made about the dialogs, which are quite simply woven into the narrative and not deliberate or clichéd, with some wry humour thrown in.

Although there may be a teeny weeny feeling of jingoism, MMJ still sees you leaving the movie hall humming, Rafi saab’s song, “Ae dil hai mushkil......yeh hai bambai meri jaan


Gauri Warudi, a freelance journalist and script writer for the past 18 years has been a film columnist and critic, mainly associated with the Marathi entertainment industry. She is also now a filmmaker, having made 4 short documentary films and a short fiction film.
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