‘Mohalla Assi’ review: Stopping short at sound and fury

A scene from 'Mohalla Assi'   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

At the heart of Mohalla Assi is a lot of noise. Most of it emanates from the iconic Pappu Ki Dukaan, the tiny real-life shop at Assi Ghat where tea is always on the boil and politics, economy, class, caste, corruption and other earth-shattering matters are discussed threadbare, often amongst strangers, over a shared copy of Amar Ujala. The constant chatter and discussions in the film, however, don’t add up. The perennially polemical tone doesn’t lead to anything significant. The film’s posturing sadly, isn’t quite provocative enough.

Mohalla Assi
  • Director: Chandraprakash Dwivedi
  • Cast: Sunny Deol, Sakshi Tanwar, Ravi Kishan, Saurabh Shukla
  • Storyline: Based on the story Pandey Kaun Kumati Tohe Lagi in Kashinath Singh’s Kashi Ka Assi, the film looks at the changing cultural dynamics at Assi Ghat in Varanasi through the times of Mandal Commission and Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi dispute
  • Run time: 120.49 minutes

Mohalla Assi feels utterly disjointed — more like a bunch of random scenes strung together than melding harmoniously into a cohesive whole. There is a lot going on — the insecurity of Baamans (brahmins), the Rama-Shiva rivalry, the colourful Banarasi lingo, the promiscuous ways of some of its residents, the conspicuous consumption of bhaang (hemp), the selling of yoga and Sanskrit, the takeover of the local homes by foreign tenants. And in the midst of it all is the religious card, election politics and the looming threat to the essential pluralism.

Based on the story ‘Pandey Kaun Kumati Tohe Lagi’ in Kashinath Singh’s Kashi Ka Assi, the film is about the changing cultural dynamics and social fabric at Varanasi’s Assi Ghat at the time of Mandal Commission and Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi dispute. Despite being based on a strong piece of writing, it feels utterly weak and washed out. Sunny Deol as the sanskrit speaking Pandey may be hard to stomach but there is bunch of strong actors on board, yet none make any of the characters memorable. The only one who makes an impression is Sakshi Tanwar, as Pandey’s sharp-talking but well-meaning wife.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2022 2:46:01 PM |

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