On the auspicious occasion of "Easter", may the spirit of the Lord be filled in the homes of my friends & family. It's been an extended weekend courtesy of other festivals such as "Vishu", "Puthandu" etc making it an occasion for families to spent some quality time with each other. To add to the festive mood, we have a plethora of movies hitting the screens this month after all the holiday season have started. The big release from Bollywood this week happened to be Vidya Balan's "Begum Jaan",whose trailer had made the people sit up & take notice. Will it be yet another knock out performance from the lady superstar???
After close to 200 years of slavery, India gained independence from the British in 1947 on the back of sacrifices of millions of known & unknown faces. But independence came at an additional price as well as it involved the partition of the country into India & Pakistan which led to millions being killed & rendered homeless. Sir Cyril Radcliffe was entrusted with the task & he completed the division of the provinces of Punjab & Bengal in five weeks. The boundary demarcation line between India & Pakistan was called the "Radcliffe line" & it incidentally happened to pass through a region in Punjab where a brothel stood. Begum Jaan (Vidya Balan) was the madam of the brothel & she made it amply clear in expletives strewn discourse to the government officials that they intended to stay their ground inspite of the eviction notice. As the brothel was under the patronage of Rajaji (Naseeruddin Shah) the ruler in the region; Begum Jaan was hopeful that the threat to their existence would be averted. So how was the issue resolved or was it beyond the control of her influential clients???
The film was helmed by reputed Bengali director Srijit Mukherji who is a familiar name when it comes to film festivals & National awards. His Bollywood directorial debut happens to be the remake of his 2015 critical hit "Rajkahini". Though I havent seen it, I have read that the only difference was in the division region as this involved the boundary line drawn through the province of Bengal. The script penned by Srijit sounded interesting but it seemed pretty bare when it was executed on the screen. Apart from the defiant stand in the latter half, hardly anything happens as neither the tragic life of the prostitutes nor the scars of partition was explored (not to mean to put fingers in all the pots, but it could have been more fleshed out).
One of the highlights were the dialogues by Srijit & Kausar Munir while the visuals by Gopi Bhagat was fine. The art department deserves praise though the BGM wasnt quite upto the mark. Anu Malik & Khayyam have created the music & have done a reasonable job. The star of the movie is undoubtedly Vidya Balan who rocked the screen as Begum & once again underlined the fact that she is still one of the very best in the Hindi film industry. Chunky Pandey finally got a meaty role & he has absolutely nailed it, expecting him to bag a couple of awards for it. Gauahar Khan & Pallavi Sharda were the only girls apart from Vidya, who got to do something significant & both of them have done reasonably well especially the former's sequence with Pitobash Tripathy. The rest of the cast have done their parts adequately.
Verdict: Since "The Fate of the Furious" have also opened on the same day, "Begum Jaan" will find it hard to get much takers for it. Even regional movies like "Sakhavu", "Power Paandi" etc & rather offbeat nature of the movie will mean it will have a tough time in the South as well. Leaving all that aside, does this movie really deserve an audience? Well Vidya, Chunky & a few others have given impressive performances but the story as such fails to satiate the appetite of the audience. In short, check it out on TV or else forget it!!!