Monday, October 3, 2011

Mausam - review

Hmm...where do I begin? Mausam moves back and forth across so many time periods that it has left one quite confused. Pankaj Kapur's directorial venture is an ambitious one.It spans across continents and across crucial points in India's modern history. It is supposed to be a grand love story that triumphs over the ravages of time. It even includes the Indian Air Force in an attempt to give its hero (and the director's son) that dash of gentlemanly machismo. In trying to be so much, it unfortunately ends up being too little.

Starting off in 1992 in the small village of Mallukot in Punjab, we are introduced to Punjabi munda Harry aka Harinder Singh (Shahid) who soon falls for the new belle in town, Kashmiri Muslim Aayat (Sonam). Before the two can quite finish accepting their love, Aayat is packed off to Mumbai due to the Babri Masjid incident. Don't ask me why. Aayat seems to do a whole lot of really unnecessary gallivanting all over the world so that the plot can move. Harry meanwhile becomes an IAF pilot. The lovers next meet after 7 years in, of all places, Edinburgh in Scotland. Here the shy, demure Aayat is learning ballet apparently and Harry is on some pilot exchange programme (!) Things go better this time and the love story progresses smoothly. But before harry can formally ask for Aayat's hand in marriage, the Kargil war begins and he has to fly out. Like, immediately. Without so much as a 'goodbye and here's my address/phone no'.

And so they pine away and try in various annoyingly vague ways to get in touch with each other. Some minor misunderstandings later, they encounter each other in Ahmedabad now just in time to get trapped in the communal riots. Thankfully for us, they get through this experience agreeing to wed and stay happily ever after. I really don't think I could have tolerated one more moronic separation.

Frankly, Mausam is a letdown. It's movie with the seed of a great idea (a love story set against the backdrop of recent history) and simply amazing cinematography. But it is far too contrived to strike a chord with the audience. The history seems forced, the lovers separation seems unnecessary, Aayat's travel seems inexplicable since they keep putting her out of Harry's reach. The direction itself feels uneven. The first part in Punjab in natural and sets a nice tone despite again, unnecessary setpieces. The visuals are consistently brilliant and there is poetry in the way the lovers interact. In the Scotland part of the tale, the poetry still remains but becomes caught up in the forced storyline. This also around the time that Shahid begins to get on your nerves. Just when I am thinking how cute he is and how competently he is acting, he goes into his OTT impersonation of how he thinks a fighter pilot should be. That's grim, unsmiling and bordering on rude.

After Scotland, in the second half, it was all mayhem, people went back and forth from India to Scotland. Switzerland and even America were there somewhere in the fray. Shahid flits between 1999 and 2001 (necessary so that the WTC disaster can be shown). The climax was the last straw. People laughed. Yes really. The hero saves the girl, a horse and a child as a riots rage around them! I mean, it was Such a 1980s potboiler finish that one could be pardoned for thinking that this was a separate movie than the one we began watching. Maybe Shahid felt he had to take this chance to show off all his acting chops. Sad.

Points mainly for beautiful visuals and some good music. Okay and also because Shahid was cute in parts. Sonam btw, was pretty and faintly ditzy - much better than one could have hoped for.


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