Munna Michael: Just beat it

A still from ‘Munna Michael’   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Never has a scene made me cringe so much in the recent past as one priceless moment in Munna Michael. Nawazuddin Siddiqui, as the audacious and entitled hotel owner-cum-gangster Mahinder, first slices open his palm with a knife at a dinner table. He then does the same to Munna (Tiger Shroff) who is seated opposite him and is visibly caught off-guard. He proceeds to give him a firm handshake, making the two bleeding hands squeeze against each other. All this to welcome Munna into his family after the dancer saves his life.

This takes place in the first 30 minutes of the film, and what follows hereon is a two-hour long endorsement for Tiger’s chiselled torso and dancing skills. Both are undeniable saleable, but tainted by intolerable fight scenes, that inexplicably crop up every 15 minutes. There’s a set recipe to make a Tiger Shroff movie: you reheat the same potboiler made for Salman Khan in the ’90s (with all its shirtless-ness), add a touch of profound dialogues – all of which are delivered in third person, of course – like, “Munna jhagda nahi karta, Munna sirf peethta hai (Munna doesn’t fight, Munna only beats people up) and top it up an outrageous climax. What you will end up with is an auditorium of clapping and laughing people – in equal parts sincerity and sarcasm.

There are portions of the film where Siddiqui seems like the lead and Shroff his second fiddle, but there are parts where the former is forgotten. Irrespective, the actor stands out throughout. But on barter to appreciate Siddiqui’s performance is a 140-minute long film that’s loud and reeking of machismo (despite being helmed by a lead actor who could safely be described as ‘pretty’). Debutant Nidhhi Agerwal as a wannabe dance reality show winner is compatible with Shroff when it comes to giving blank looks with utmost ease, but fails to match up to his gyration, pelvic thrusts and glides. Shroff’s innate ability to move just his lips and no other facial muscle while delivering an emotional scene is admirable.

For a film with half its title dedicated to Michael Jackson, there’s a conspicuous dearth of references to the pop icon, apart from Shroff donning the black fedora and breaking into occasional moon walks. Munna Michael may pass muster as an industrially sculpted film meant purely for entertainment, but its underlying normalisation and glorification of street violence, male entitlement, dismissal of consent, could be lethal, especially considering the film is aimed at family audiences. The makers may walk home with money, Shroff with more fame, but the audience will return with a message that you could get away anything as long as it is cloaked in song and dance.

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Printable version | Oct 11, 2021 9:20:41 AM |

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