ISME एक्सन HAI, रौमांस HAI, बदले की आग HAI,
पोलटिक्स BHI HAI, जातिवाद है, AUR साला GAALI भी डाल दिए HAI,
यु.पी KI ऑथेंटिक खुसबू KE LIYE

2.5 stars

Mini Review:

Based on a true story of a hotheaded pugilist who wants to prove he is better than everyone else in the ring, Mukkabaaz puts its fist in many pies: boxing, romance, caste wars, defiance and revenge. Anurag Kashyap brings alive small town Uttar Pradesh brilliantly. But the fist through so many pies laced with too many songs becomes a feast too difficult to digest.

Main Review:

Actor Vineet Kumar deserves kudos for working hard - physically
that is - to play the part of a boxer from Bareilly, who wants that
one chance in the ring. He’s getting to be 25 years old and he will
soon miss out on competing for the state level championships,
let alone compete in the Nationals. The one big obstacle in his
path is his coach, who tends to treat boxers as his man-servants.

Hotheaded Shravan Singh falls instantly in love with his Coach’s
niece. It’s a multi-layered problem right there. The coach is
Bhagwan Das Mishra, an upper caste Brahman who is also the
local heavy, and so powerful he could make or break Shravan’s
career. Shravan is of course belongs to the Rajput community,
but as Bhagwan Das Mishra puts it scathingly: Any low caste lad
can put a ‘Singh’ after his name and assume a higher caste.
For Shravan proposing marriage would be outrageous. His
hotheadedness too makes him say, ‘We’re boxers, here to train,
not to do odd jobs for you while you lie in the Sun.

Of course he gets bashed up. After bashing up his coach’s
men. He gets bashed up several times because this is not
complicated. There’s more!

The coach’s niece loves him back! This love story is all eyes and
no words, and Anurag Kashyap’s direction is marvelous here.
The small town innocence - her saucer large eyes, his almost
brave but essentially shy ways of showing love - is most amazing.
When he realises that she loves him back, he is ready to defy the
world (especially her uncle, who has blacklisted Shravan).
His act of defiance, a wild dance at his friend’s wedding is perhaps
the finest scene in the film, and I feel terrible that it may be
shadowed by the cameo appearance of the star Nawazuddin

Yes, there’s violence on every level and the director could have
made it very ugly by simply showing the rape of the niece as
well as her mother as it oft times happens in reality, but he
doesn’t, and thankfully too. There is enough violence in boxing.
And in the perpetually angry hero needs to learn to curb his
volcanic feelings. The coach and his methods are violent too.
Sticks and bricks and steel rods used on unsuspecting
bodies make for incredible violence.  

And everything is broken by songs. The official site says there
are eight songs in the film. Feels like there must be over fifteen.
He’s training, there’s a song. She’s watching him follow her
around, listen to the song. His daily routine, there’s a song.
He’s emotional, let there be song. She’s emotional, listen to
a song. He’s attending some wedding (and we know he’s
from ‘ladke walon ki taraf se’ or the groom’s side, but that
wedding manages to add nothing to the screenplay except
get Nawazuddin his song and show us how UP weddings are)
there are not one but two songs. He’s pummeling someone in
the ring, here, listen to a song. He’s wandering about angry and
confused and searching for someone, there is a song. The
training song is apt, but the rest are local noise.

Zoya Hussain as Sunaina is incandescent. Jimmy Shergill
as Bhagwan Das Mishra is the best villain, but what's with his
Horror film eyes? Vineet Kumar plays Shravan Kumar Singh is
amazing. Shravan and Sunaina's dads are stupendous. And Ravi
Kisen, is a star. Watch them bring the hotch potch editing of the
story alive. Then ask yourself, who repeats the daily routine
sequence twice? And that too without change?

Now Anurag Kashyap has given us some amazing cinema. But
this khichdi of romance and revenge and sports and politics
created by several writers is on many levels just a mish mash,
tasty in parts but still a pandering to the image of ‘Anurag Kashyap
knows small town North India’. I wish I could have loved this
movie more. Then realised, I didn't care for any character enough
to love the film.

P.S. अनुराग भईया का नामे ऐक ठो संदेस: वासेपुर से काहे निकल लीये ? फेर आओ। रोमांस कर लेना इंस्टाग्राम पर। लाइक कर देंगे। फिलम में गोलीऐ ठीक लागती है।

(this review sans hindi appears on )

Author: Manisha Lakhe

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