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Miss Tanakpur Haazir Ho: Making sense of the bizarre


Set in what we casually call the cow belt of the country, a village headman accuses a young boy of sexually assaulting his buffalo, who has just won an animal fashion contest in the village fare. Picked from the crime pages of the vernacular dailies, debutant Vinod Kapri has come up with a social satire that is more ribald than refined. On the surface it seems like Kapri has a fascination for faecal matter but as we culture it, it turns out to be a scatological comment on the putrid thought process, the misogyny that pervades our socio-political system and the callousness of the judicial process at the ground level.

Kapri has an astute observation of the place and the people he is talking about. The colour is not limited to the hair of a corrupt police man. It is there in the dialect and the dialectics of the narrative and Kapri has picked a cast that imbibes the turn of phrase with all its risqué possibilities but don’t let the crudeness come in the way of the mechanics of satire.



Genre: Black Comedy
Director: Vinod Kapri
Cast: Rahul Bagga, Annu Kapoor, Om Puri, Sanjay Mishra, Ravi Kishan, Hrishitaa Bhatt
Those who are familiar with the tradition of satire in Hindi literature can inhale the scent of the writing of Kashinath Singh, Manohar Shyam Joshi, K.P. Saxena and Sir Lal Shukla in the morbid humour that Kapri has conjured up. The buffalo becomes a metaphor for the state of women in the hinterland where deep-seated patriarchy sees them only as an object. For most men in the film Miss Tanakpur is just a machine which delivers 20 litres of milk in a day. When she gets hurt she is put on sale. Maya’s state is not too different from her. In fact the film shows that it is easier for the animal to break free than the woman.

Annu Kapoor is once again in form as the over-the-top aging Pradhan Sualal who has not been able to satisfy his young wife Maya (Hrishitaa Bhatt). A local village boy Arjun (Rahul Bagga) understands the emotional and physical needs of Maya but when Sualal comes to know about the relation, he decides to humiliate Arjun and his family with the help of his henchman Bhima (Ravi Kishan) and the village priest Shukla (Sanjay Mishra). As expected the law also develops week knees in front of money power and the cop (Om Puri) constructs a false case against Arjun. In the beginning it seems a like an exaggerated version of single column story, ballooned by some desi gags, but as the narrative takes shape the sinister designs behind the comic front generate an uneasy feeling.

From religious manipulation to gender politics to caste dominance, it reminds of the bizarre forms unbridled power can take. And Arjun’s parents and grandmother reflect the helplessness in face of this brute collation of political and money power without getting melodramatic.

Its dystopic feel reminds of Manish Jha’s “Matrubhumi”.

Unlike Jha, Kapri, who comes from a journalistic background, has picked from rich sources, but he has not been able to weave the influences into a cogent whole. Of and on it seems the narrative takes a detour to satisfy the Bhimas and the Sualals and their wannabe followers in the audience. Every now and then you feel that he is getting carried away and is falling into a claptrap or the rancid pit he is making fun of but then as things threaten to go bawdy, Kapri changes track. As his humour starts acquiring darker shades, the film develops an edge that cuts through the conscience and the shock value no longer remains superficial. And after a point one tends to agree with Annu Kapoor’s punchline. Don’t take it otherwise!

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Printable version | Apr 14, 2021 1:37:17 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/cinema-reviews/miss-tanakpur-haazir-ho-making-sense-of-the-bizarre/article7358155.ece

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