Anurag Kashyap is back in the game with Mukkabaaz. It surely is an unconventional sports film based on the backdrop of boxing. But more than sports, it's the love story that offers a barbed critique of India’s much-abused caste system, religious intolerance and political corruption that permeates the Indian society.
Anurag Kashyap's Upcoming Movie Mukkabaaz
Anurag has presented a hybrid genre of masala Bollywood mainstream action with art house theme and engrossing characters - maintaining the pace of the film & not making it boring even for a second.
Mukkabaaz is packed with energy, humour and melodrama which makes sure it doesn’t cater only to sports buffs.
The basic plot about a despised underdog, who against overwhelming odds, grits his teeth and trains for the big boxing matches, could hardly be any less clichéd than Mukkabaaz.
Jimmy Shergill In Mukkabaaz
However, it's the cinematic invention which makes sure that much more is being offered and you are hooked onto every bit of it.
What's It About!
A low caste boxer, Shravan (Vineet Kumar Singh) trains at a gym controlled by a local Don named Bhagwan Das Mishra (Jimmy Shergill). Shravan falls for Mishra's niece Sunaina (Zoya Hussain). The Don does not approve of this match. Shravan strives to win Sunaina's hand in marriage and become a successful boxer while trying to avoid retaliation from the Don. Will he able to meet both the worlds meet? Will he be able to stand up against the person who controls not just his professional career, but also holds his love life at gun point?
A Still From Mukkabaaz
In a country where sportsmen struggle for respect, Mukkabaaz is also about the sub-culture and neglect of sports (in this case boxing) in dusty rural towns.
It's the beauty of such films where you’re so much in awe of all the performances that your mind is constantly in cahoots as to whom to praise more.
So to begin with, Vineet Kumar Singh has given his heart and soul to the film in the literal sense. At an age of 34, where boxers are generally retiring from the sport, Vineet went in to learning the craft and gave almost 2 years to become a boxer. You can't point out a single flaw in his boxing technique, and that's how much dedication he has put into the role.
Then there is Jimmy Shergill as the antagonist. I have always maintained that he is India's most underrated actor, and he proves it once again with Mukkabaaz. With blood-shot eyes throughout the film, he manages to give a no-nonsense performance and mind you, it won’t take him long enough to make you hate his character.
Jimmy Shergill From Mukkabaaz
He very well represents the arrogance and violence of those who exercise power in a country like India. The cruelty he demonstrates towards his own family members, all in the name of hurting a guy who has insulted him by falling in love with his niece, is a sickening spectacle.
Finally, there is newbie Zoya Hussain. She plays a dumb girl in the film, and manages to bring a true mirror of the Indian rural society in front of the audience. The fact that she cannot speak is a metaphor about the millions of women in Indian families who have no say in family matters and are always silenced down by patriarchal mindset.
The way she converses with Vineet (in sign language) gives you no scope to question how much effort she has put into learning the art.
Moving away from characters and actors, the music of the film keeps you hooked onto each scene. Songs like Paintra, sung by Divine and composed by Nucleya and Bahut Hua Samman, sung by Swaroop Khan and composed by Rachita Arora stand out. Even the background score after every punch line makes you want to stand up and whistle.
Vineet Kumar Singh & Zoya Hussain In Mukkabaaz
Talk about the direction, well, you cannot have such a flawless setting with a strong story board unless the Captain of the ship is 100 percent clear in his thoughts and ideas as to what he wants.
It was also a welcome change to see Anurag come out of the territory of depressing dark thrillers (Raman Raghav 2.0, Bombay Velvet, Ugly) and make something for the masses in the heartland of India.
And a big shout out to the 4 cinematographers of the film - Rajeev Ravi, Shanker Raman, Jay Patel, Jayesh Nair, who have done a brilliant job of setting the stage for a massy entertainer.
There is hardly something that has gone wrong in the film. But even if I have to point out, I think the run-time of 150 minutes is a bit too long. Anurag could have used the scissors a bit.
Mukkabaaz isn't one of those one-time-watch-films. It's the ‘Gangs Of Wasseypur types’ whose punchlines become daily lingo.If you are a fan of that genre, Mukkabaaz is your diet this weekend.
Image Source: youtube/erosnow, APH Images & instagram/itsvineetsingh