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‘Malang’ movie review: Strip the film of its 'style', and it's just an archaic revenge drama

A still from the movie ‘Malang’

A still from the movie ‘Malang’   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The high-pitched aesthetics of this film can be overlooked, but not the unsubstantiated violence that rises from strange notions of misogyny and masculinity

When you drive down winding roads in Ladakh, you often see creative signposts that keep you entertained when the drive gets pretty nauseous. The warning lines flashing on-screen during Malang serve a similar purpose. In this drug-fuelled revenge saga, every time someone snorts, injects or puffs, there’s a warning in the corner of the screen: “Don’t be insane, drugs ruin the brain”, “Addicts don’t get old, they die young”, “drugs cost more than just money”, and my favourite, “Nashe ki maar barbaad kare aadmi aur parivaar (drugs ruin you and your family)”. These lines are often more engrossing and funny than all the over-the-top drama in the film.

Malang
  • Director: Mohit Suri
  • Cast: Aditya Roy Kapur, Disha Patani, Anil Kapoor, Kunal Khemu
  • Story line: A heartbroken Advait gets out of the jail to seek revenge and meets a bunch of good and bad cops.

The film opens with a chiselled Aditya Roy Kapur doing pull-ups and then makes his way out of the cell and single-handedly pulps fellow prisoners for a really long time. This machismo is only the beginning of all the ‘mard’ and ‘naamard’ (emasculated) sentiment lying at the core of this film. Every character is on their own trip, committing violent acts in Goa for a variety of reasons, of which the most unsatisfactory ones are the big reveals. Sara (Disha Patani), a free-spirited NRI cliché, who comes to Goa for a cheaper version of Eat Pray Love, is caught in a murderous misunderstanding. All she wanted was the answer to the big mystery of life: “Tumhe sukoon chahiye ya mazaa? (Do you want peace or love?)” and go from “one high to another”. But she ends up getting pregnant after doing “wild wild with a stranger” (a euphemism for sex), and ultimately finds sukoon in, well, Christmas. So the present day and some of the flashback takes place over Christmas Eve, when there is a carnival, a football match in a stadium and Goan villagers running on a bridge after Christmas mass, all in the same evening.

As stretched and basic the first half is, the second half goes all out to prove you wrong – no matter the logic. The high-pitched aesthetics of this film (rife with filmmaker Mohit Suri’s favourite visuals of things falling from the sky in slow-motion) can be overlooked but what is most bothersome is the unsubstantiated violence that rises from strange notions of misogyny and masculinity. Sexual violence and male commitment phobia are ascribed to traumatic childhoods and women exist only to be raped, take revenge or be the motivation for revenge.

Is it too much to ask for filmmakers and writers to refrain from using rape and sexual violence as plot devices in thrillers? Strip the film of all its “style” and you end up with an archaic revenge drama that is made more ridiculous by obvious misunderstandings. At points the film seems to be made just so Kapur and Patani can show off their sculpted bodies and market GoPro cameras on beaches that look more Mauritius than Goa. Even Anil Kapoor, who usually manages to salvage the worst of scripts, is reduced to a beaten-down, revenge-hungry cop. The film is unintentionally funny at points, mildly clever in its second-half and there is a hint of pertinent discussion about encounters and justice within the system but all that is eclipsed by the multitude inane reasoning in the film, that gives you neither sukoon nor mazaa.

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Printable version | Apr 7, 2020 9:55:22 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/malang-movie-review-strip-the-film-of-its-style-and-its-just-an-archaic-revenge-drama/article30769237.ece

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