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[THIS PLOT SUMMARY CONTAINS SPOILERS] Shortly after 1800 hours, 11 July 2006, Mumbai was shattered by seven bomb blasts on Western Railway stations: Matunga, Mahim, Khar, Bandra, Jogeshwari, Borivali, and Bhayandar. It took the Police and ambulance over an hour to attend at various sites. This incident changes lives of Thomas, originally from Chennai, who sells tea from his bike; Rupali Joshi, a TV News reporter, who has to deal with the death of her to-be spouse, Ajay Kumar Pradhan; Suresh, in debt, starts to suspect all Muslims, especially Yusuf; Inspector Tukaram Patil, about to retire, goes about collecting bribes as usual, much to the chagrin of his embittered, honest and soon to-be suspended subordinate, Sunil Kadam; while Nikhil Agarwal, a Nationalist and environmentalist, debates whether he should re-locate to the United States, along with his pregnant wife, Sejal. Written by
The great city of Mumbai got its song in 1956. It was written by Majrooh Sultanpuri, composed by O.P. Nayyar and sung by Mohd. Rafi and Geeta Bali - 'Ae dil hai mushkil jeena yahan..' from the film CID. It took more than half a century since then for Mumbai to get its film. 'Mumbai Meri Jaan' is that film.
Nishikant Kamat (director) and Yogesh Joshi (writer) have created a brilliant film. It starts slow and cautious but the graph keeps on rising steadily throughout the duration of the film. 'Mumbai Meri Jaan' chronicles the few days before and after the Mumbai serial blasts of 2006 in the lives of 5 characters played by Kay Kay Menon, Soha Ali Khan, Irfan Khan, Paresh Rawal and Madhavan. That list has some of the very good actors in Hindi film industry today. None of then disappoint. Every one of them has got into the skin of their character, and be assured they are no simple characters.
The story is beautifully written. It gives space to all the characters. Each one is well defined. It captures their fears, failures, prejudices and agony flawlessly. It takes us from one character to the other and all the stories blend seamlessly. The editing is clean, though it could have been a little more stringent to cut the running length of the film a little.
Why Mumbai Meri Jaan really clicks is because it is about real people in a real world. The vast expanses that it covers in its limited premise is amazing. There is a Paresh Rawal who is reflecting at his 36 years as a policeman. When we hear him out completely it is difficult to decide whether he is a loser or winner. The wrinkles on his face, his gray hairs, his spectacle-aided vision - is there a better metaphor than himself for the city he lives in? There is a Madhavan who can get what he wants. He has the money to buy a car, has the opportunities to migrate to Europe or America. But should he? We don't really know at the end. It is for some reason that a tear drop sliding over his cheeks is the closing shot of the film. Kay Kay Menon and Irfan Khan are great actors. They have added dimensions to their characters which I doubt even the writer knew existed. The Soha Ali Khan segment takes a dig at the news channels of today. It is raises a lot of obvious questions.
Nishikant Kamat is a director to look out for. He uses various devices like close-ups, short quick cuts, looking upwards shots, silence, stills, jarring music, almost everything. But all are in moderation. So the end result looks plain and clean - possibly the most difficult thing to do in Hindi film industry today.
It was only befitting that the film end with the C.I.D song. A must watch.
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