A tribute to Mumbai

THERE IS nothing stunningly overdramatic or overtly maudlin in Nishikant Kamat’s new film Mumbai Meri Jaan. The director became famous for his first Marathi flick, Dombivali Fast, which went on to garner quite a few accolades, including, among others, the National Awards India, Best Film, 2006 and Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA), Best Film Grand Jury Award, 2006.

By Vijay Dandige

  • Follow us on
  • google-news
  • whatsapp
  • telegram

Published: Sun 24 Aug 2008, 9:09 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 2:51 PM

Soha Ali Khan and Madhavan in stills from the film Mumbai Meri JaanMumbai Meri Jaan is his first Hindi film, produced under the banner of UTV Motion Pictures. A special screening of the film was held at Al Ghurair Cineplex for the media in Dubai.

Kamat’s film resembles, to some extent, the Hollywood movie Crash , in which disparate characters from different levels of society confront their personal demons and angst and find solace at the end.

In Mumbai Meri Jaan, though, the triggering point of the narrative is the series of bomb blasts that rocked Mumbai’s local train service on July 11, 2006. The film explores the impact of the bomb blasts on the lives of the people of Mumbai.

The story centres around six Mumbaiites: a broadcast journalist played by Soha Ali Khan, a patriotic corporate man (R. Madhavan), a retiring policeman (Paresh Rawal), a rookie cop (Vijay Maurya), an angry and xenophobic unemployed young man (Kay Kay Menon) and a coffee-vendor (Irrfan). Each of them, struggling to survive and belong, comes face to face with hidden insidious aspects of their own personalities, bringing out the worst and best in them. And in the final dénouement, each arrives at a reassuring resolution. The film above all seeks to make the same point that Crash did: it’s ultimately about the resilient and undying spirit of the people of a city — in this case Mumbai.

Mumbai Meri Jaan is Kamat’s attempt to make a meaningful movie. The film neither aims to indict the security apparatus or the administration’s failure to meet the catastrophe nor seeks to comment on the scourge of terrorism. Rather, it deals with individual lives and their prejudices, phobias and insecurities brought to the fore by a devastating incident.

Kamat has a done a commendable job; his direction is grounded in reality; his characters are well defined and skilfully delineated. The film’s dialogues, written by Yogesh Vinayak Joshi, bring a refreshing genuineness to the venture.

The characters in Mumbai Meri Jaan talk as real people do in Mumbai. But what brings out the real character of Mumbai is the superb cinematography by Sanjay Jadhav, who captures the glittering and squalor-filled metropolis in all its nuances: the beauty of its tall buildings and bustling roads and the ugliness of its overcrowded filthy chawls and garbage filled sidewalks.

Kamat also draws restrained, controlled performances from the cast.

Paresh Rawal — whose sheer acting genius knows no bounds — is simply superb as police constable Tukaram Patil, who never stood up to anything, never fired a single round in his career and who couches a lifetime of compromises and failure in humourous diatribes.

Despite its dark theme and absence of usual song and dance numbers, Mumbai Meri Jaan manages to hold the viewers’ interest, although it tends to somewhat drag in patches towards the end. But that is a minor flaw in an otherwise rivetting film.

If Nishikant Kamat can nurture his cinematic vision, without succumbing to the temptation of commercial success, he can bring a refreshing change in a film industry where change is difficult to come by.


More news from