Filmmaker Anubhav Sinha must be lauded for presenting a complex narrative which brilliantly touches upon terrorism intertwined with religion in the country. Veteran actor Rishi Kapoor plays the patriarch Murad Ali Mohammad who has lived all his life in Benaras—the holy city which is home to people of different faiths in the country. The screenplay starts with a camera panning into the busy life of Varanasi and its people.
There are temples, mosques, churches and prayer homes. The feeling of bonhomie and brotherhood co-exits peacefully but only for a brief while. We are taken deep inside the house of Murad Ali, who has a doting wife, played by Neena Gupta, a younger brother Bilal Mohammad aka Manoj Pahwa. It's like any other middle-class Indian family which has its problems and tensions in relations yet keeps it under the carpet—smiling on the face of it all.
Murad's son Aftab (Indraneil Sengupta) is wonderfully settled abroad and his wife Aarti played by Taapsee Pannu visits her in-laws for a family function. Yes, the first time you hear her name inside the Mohammad household, it rings a bell. But director Anubhav Sinha has a vision and he has presented his thought in the best way possible.
Tension creeps in when Bilal's son Shahid, here played by Prateik Babbar gets brainwashed into believing that killing other innocent lives is Jihad. A bomb blast rocks Allahabad and as fate would have it the entire Mohammad family gets under the dock. The eye of suspicion never leaves them and the emotional setback they suffer—as their old neighbourhood friends distance themselves grips you hard.
The real hero of 'Mulk' is the script and the performance of the actors. And no, it's not just the lead actors Rishi Kapoor and Taapsee Pannu who will leave a mark once you are out of the theatres. The immensely talented supporting cast like Manoj Pahwa, Ashutosh Rana, Rajat Kapoor and Kumud Mishra too deserve thunderous applause.
They have delivered and how! Again, Anubav Sinha, you need a pat on your back for giving us an entertainer like 'Mulk'.
The courtroom drama and histrionics of Ashutosh Rana as a prosecution lawyer will keep you on the edge of your seats. Mulk has some powerfully penned dialogues which evoke nationalism as well as a feeling of 'what are we actually doing' while watching the actors bring out their best on-screen.
Taapsee has delivered a stark performance which is a way forward than 'Pink'. She plays the defence lawyer and fights for her in-laws. Ewan Mulligan's camera moves beautifully into the bylanes of Benaras just as realistically it captures the rawness and roughness of a police station.
Kumud Mishra's verdict in the climax beautifully explains what exactly the countrymen need to understand at this point in time. Watch Mulk to not just appreciate a cinematic brilliance but also peep inside your own self to question 'where are we wrong'?
(Ratings: 3.5/5 Stars)