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‘Mulk’ review: The film holds up the mirror to our prejudices

'Mulk' raises a pertinent point, should terrorism be only linked to Islam and why our opinion gets coloured soon as we hear that a person belongs to the Muslim community.

Director: Anubhav Sinha

Cast: Rishi Kapoor, Taspsee Pannu, Indraneil Sengupta, Neena Gupta,  Prateik Babbar

Rating: ****

Anubhav Sinha’s Mulk is a relevant and brave film. It takes on perhaps the most sensitive topic in the current times, our prejudices against a particular religion and how secularism is the first to go out of the window as soon as we feel the threat to our lives. Mulk raises a pertinent point, should terrorism be only linked to Islam and why our opinion gets coloured soon as we hear that a person belongs to the Muslim community.

Murad Ali Mohammad (Rishi Kapoor) is the patriarch of a Muslim family living in Benaras. His family consists of his wife Tabassum (Neena Gupta), his son (Indraneil Sengupta), his daughter-in-law Aarti Mohammad (Taapsee Pannu), his brother Bilal (Manoj Pahwa) and Bilal’s wife and kids. Murad, a respected lawyer in his area, goes about living a happy life till tragedy strikes. Bilal’s son Shahid (Prateik Babbar) gets waylaid and he gets involved in a terrorist act which leads to the loss of lives.

ATS office Javed (Rajat Kapoor) suspects that the entire family is involved in terrorism and swoops in on them.  Bilal is convicted of conspiring with Shahid in the terrorist act. Helpless and cornered, the Mohammad family has to defend itself and fight to restore its honour on its own. Aarti, a Hindu married into the family, fights alongside Murad to get themselves free of not only this particular accusation but the prejudice against the entire Muslim community. Sinha delves into the issue in hand with unabashed directness, without tip toeing around any of the issue involved.

Even when all seems good for the Muslim family living peacefully among Hindus, the prejudices peek in subtle forms, like a Hindu woman who refuses to eat at their home, even though she is not averse to attending Murad’s sixtieth birthday party. The plot reveals a harsh truth, the goodwill shared by the two communities is mostly on the surface and hatred shows its ugly face, soon as tides turn.

The film is even toned and doesn’t for once waver from its prime objective, to hold up the mirror to our prejudices. Sinha treads on a thin rope here, but tries his best to give a balanced view point. In one of the most important scenes of the film, when Shahid complains to his friend about unemployment, the friend reminds him of their Hindu friends who are jobless too, thus trying to make him understand that Muslims are not always victims as sometimes one would like to believe.

Rishi Kapoor is brilliant as Murad Ali, who is chaffing with the prejudice against him, yet have the courage to stand up for himself and his family and refuse to flee from the situation. Taapsee Pannu is largely effective and packs a punch in the climax scene. Rest of the cast, including Neena Gupta, Prachi Shah, Prateik Babbar, Manoj Pahwa give good support. Ashutosh Rana, who plays the defence lawyer has a strong screen presence but tends to go overboard with his histrionics in the courtroom. Rajat Kapoor as someone who’s hardcore and biased against his own community, is effective.

Sinha manages to create a realistic world of the Muhammad family and his surroundings, through most of the film. But unfortunately gets into a melodramatic mode in the courtroom scenes. Music of the film is largely insipid.

But overall this film is a must watch. It is relevant, important and it makes us want to look within.

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Shubha Shetty

Shubha Shetty is the Entertainment Editor (print and digital) at Dainik Bhaskar Group.