Vishal Bhardwaj and humour? Zany, candy-coloured humour? Takes a little time getting used to the idea; until you think back to his first film Makdee, that delightful, carefree film about a bunch of kids who’re convinced there’s a witch in their village. It was a laugh, right from its opening sequences to the climax where a grotesquely made-up Shabana Azmi threw her customary restraint to the village winds as the witch.
Perhaps that same sense of fun will imbue Matru ki Bijli ka Mandola, set in familiar Bharadwaj territory: small-town India. This time it’s Haryana, so prepare for a strong Haryanvi dialect and cuss words.
The story: Matru (Imran Khan) is a personable young man whose family has served the Mandola family for generations. Harry Mandola (Pankaj Kapur) is a wealthy industrialist who’s as fond of the bottle as he is of his bratty daughter Bijlee (Anushka Sharma), so named by her mother in honour of the first generator brought into the village. She lives up to her name: ‘Dekho magar pyaar se (Look, but with love),’ says the tattoo positioned just above Bijlee’s slender butt.
Matru is besotted with Bijlee but she falls in love with Baadal Choudhury, who she meets at Oxford where they’re both studying. Baadal is the son of a powerful politician, Chaudhari Devi (Shabana Azmi), and all seems set for a grand wedding till destiny and a candy-pink cow named Gulabo create mayhem. With this film Bharadwaj moves far away from the dark, brooding mood of his last four films (Maqbool, Omkara, Kaminey and Saat Khoon Maaf) and the move comes not a film too early.
The casting seems perfect. Anushka Sharma plays Bijlee prancing about in teeny shorts and jumping into village ponds, but it should be interesting to see Imran Khan, as cool a dude as any, play the rustic Matru and Pankaj Kapur play an alcoholic with delusions. Add the ever-reliable Shabana Azmi and Gulabo, who Bhardwaj has declared is his item girl and we have an interesting offering. The director has pulled out the stops and clearly decided to enjoy himself. Hopefully we should, too.
Matru ki Bijli ka Mandola
Cast: Imran Khan, Anushka Sharma, Pankaj Kapur, Shabana Azmi, Arya Babbar
Director: Vishal Bharadwaj
Releases: January 11, 2012
Bottomline: With this film Bhardwaj moves far away from the dark, brooding mood of his last four films.