Begum Jaan

Cast- Vidya Balan, Illa Arun, Naseeruddin Shah, Rajit Kapoor, Ashish Vidyarthi, Vivek Mushran, Chunkey Pandey, Gauhar Khan, Pallavi Sharda,Mishti

Director – Srijit Mukherji

Screenplay – Srijit Mukherji, Kausar Munir

Dialogues- Kausar Munir

Is the story of a feisty woman who runs a brothel and refuses to let go of it when it happens to fall on the Radcliffe line during partition.

But using this plot and with the backdrop of partition, the director has tried make too many points in this film and his style is definitely loud and crude. My interpretation is that he wanted to highlight the state of despondency of the people who unwillingly fell into the grind and more so of this marginalised section of society who never had a chance. But he kind of messed it up though potentially the plot was worth much more.

We know of what’s to come when the story revolves around a bunch of prostitutes and the trailers prepared us too. But with the opening scene, we see that the director is out there to make a bold statement. As the story progresses it does get engrossing no doubt but fails to impress. The characters are many and as a result, none of them are etched out properly. We fail to connect. Though there are scenes which are overwhelming emotionally but that’s because the director uses crudeness of dialogues and visuals to shake us up .

Vidya Balan is the only one who has the meaty role and tries to shine in whatever she had to bite on. One thing that never fails to impress me is that vanity in terms of her looks is never a problem for her. How many stars would play the character without bothering about the looks ?

Ashish Vidyarthi, Rajat Kapoor, Naseeruddin Shah are sheer wastage .

Gauhar Khan, Pitobhash (Shor in the city) do manage to stand out.

For me ,the surprise package was Chunky Pandey with such menacing looks and character , he could make the bile rise. I think that actor is capable of playing better than those comic caricatures he gets to play.

Some of the songs were good like “Prem mei tohre” and “O re kahaaron” . Their earthy feel was appealing.

I must add now that the movie might appear too overcrowded and loud, but I found it engrossing and interesting. It was crude maybe to sensationalise but it does make you feel sad. The feel of despondency sticks to you through and clear.

The connection with how the movie starts and ends is clear if you look at it metaphorically.

Begum Jaan ‘s dialogue about the worthlessness of freedom for the sex workers stands true even now. What has changed for them in 70 years ? Not a single legislation protecting them.

Cinematically, the movie might not be rated too high and had its flaws but I think it its worth a watch provided you have a palate of hard hitting and slightly crude cinema which might not raise your spirits too high but sets you thinking.

Score 7 on 10

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