Mausam – Weather or not?

As I wake up in the morning, anticipating a first day first show thrill, my heartbeat is slightly above normal. It’s a Pankaj Kapur film. Period.  5 stars. ✪✪✪✪✪ !!

The moment you utter Pankaj Kapur you see a tag cloud with words like – intensity, class, mind blowing acting skills, versatility, realism and perhaps even comedy. Hello Kitty.

The hall is full. And there’s a slight buzz around. The closest buzz tells me they are discussing about Shahid Kapur’s moustache look. A little further there’s some flutter about Sonam Kapoor’s de-glam look. The final whisper in the background was about how Indian air force, as a backdrop would make for a fantastic movie. I silently agree.

The movie begins in Mallukot, in the year 1992,( I know since some of you readers weren’t born then – so a small dose of history is in store for you) – a small town in Punjab. The photography looks neat. The attention to detail good and the mood floats in anticipation.

Shahid’s character Harrinder Singh a.k.a – Harry is an ambitious village boy who nurtures a dream of joining the Indian Airforce. He lives in this small town with a predominantly sardar community, who try to age-old sardar jokes on one another.

Introduction of Sonam, her character Aayat, gives you some idea what’s to come in the next 2 hours and 40 minutes. She’s looking beautiful in the de-glam get up. Her smile and Shahid ‘s crooked lower jaw teeth standout during close-up shots.

Silent romance and a song or two later, it is understood they have fallen in love, much to the disappointment of the next-door girl. Post a rain drench sequence you learn the girl has gone away overnight without informing her beau.

As they say sometimes in life you’ve got to be the pigeon and sometimes the statue!

Predictably beau drives his Hero cycle like a superbike Kawasaki 1000 – just to miss the train. Harry looked to have decent schooling – but further studies -not sure. He must’ve been good in math though.

Somehow he is eligible to apply for the IAF. But surprisingly, his sense of timing was missing, since he is not able to calculate speed = distance/time and therefore misses the train to catch Sonam leaving Mallukot. Who knows, flying a Sukhoi -30 might be an easier calculation.

With girl gone – he gets the job he was waiting for. Joins Indian air force.

Zoom 7 years forward and you land up in 1999.Our pilot lands up with an assignment in Scotland. Just then, in the right time in the right place, our darling Aayat is selling Mozart tickets.! A simple math calculation will tell you the odds of that happening in an area that has roughly 5million population.

Say halleluiah ! Coincidence with a capital C. This is the first time my initial rating is challenged, and I revise it to 4 stars. ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪

Still Pankaj Kapur looms large in your mind. Shahid with the moustache look, carries it off well. And you anticipate romance. It does happen. In silent conversations,horse carriages,over teacups, inside the pipe (yes you read it correct) in the rain. Now you re really thinking what next, when is the twist coming. It does ever so predictably.

Harry leaves to fight the enemies on the front. Enter Kargill battle. Of course he has to leave without even having the chance to say goodbye. Again the darned math calculation  err.. physics calculation comes into picture  he couldn’t calculate Time= speed/distance. He finds not a single minute to call the girl he is about to spend the entire life with. I guess man has his priorities right. Air borne versus Aayat’s mourn.

He promptly vanishes from the scene just like Jason Bourne.

After some posturing  before the aircraft, walking the “Kaantey” walk in front of fighter planes and finally wearing the helmet to launch. Finally you brace for some breath taking action. Music picks up, momentum builds and then there is a crash landing – no not of the aircraft but of the scene and your senses.

Shift back to Scotland and Aayat, and frantic phone calls, and a heart attack later, sobs continue. Just when melancholy rains, it is back to action time again! Whew.

You think this is India’s answer to Top Gun, Kripan-1 (code name for mission aircraft) is the answer for Maverick fighter jet. Alas my love, all you see is a tacky B-grade animation. At the height of attack and jet speed faster than Mach 3 – our Charlie develops short-circuit and loses engine/altitude/hope.

But we have not yet reached half-time interval, my mind screams. How can the plane crash? Pankaj.Kapur the director saves us. Squadron leader Harrinder Singh successfully lands the aircraft on to the runway. And you thought he was going to eject into enemy territory and re-enact the Nachiketa heroics? Naah.

Come on – throw some tragedy I scream. Voila – Sq.Ldr. Singh manages to get his one arm paralyzed! Strategically it is his left. icon wink Mausam   review

Ok now back to serious sobbing. Back to Scotland where Aayat is tired of not being able to reach or know Harry’s whereabouts. She cries,waits,cries again.

My star rating goes for a toss. ✪ ✪ ✪

Another new date beckons – 2001.. The word Ahmedabad comes up every now and then and you know, there is some gore awaiting you in not so distant future.

After a lot of STD/ISD calls, and voicemails the net result is the twain have still not met.

Now our man tries to get back to normalcy and thinks of going back to Scotland after his sister in Switzerland convinces him of the worth. In one such scene where he is travelling in EU rail ( probably got a Shenzhen visa) from Switzerland to somewhere he spots Aayat standing in the middle of no where , well somewhere which has about  6” snow.

Harry the IAF pilot now dons the role of Milkha Singh . He gets off the train to reach the preceding train at the preceding station. He ran on the tracks, in the snow, over the mountains only to find his lady love snoring.(err. ok I exaggerated) on another man’s shoulder with a kid in tow.

Another case of missed calculation. He obviously does not value his running skills or effort and promptly gets off the train without talking to the love of his life.

Now fast forward again and we reach Ahmedabad before the Godhra riots.

Promptly the riots happen in a tacky set which looks like a direct lift off from a 70’s Rajesh Khanna movie.

After some slow motion running, screaming, and blood stained swords our damsel bumps into 4 rioters. She is obviously frozen, waiting for Mr. Right to pop from somewhere. He does. He rescues her back into a pipe.Yipes.

They find time to catch up on lost time – after all there was no  Facebook for them. Shem Shem. They had to catch up with some clunky dialogues in the middle of a crazy riot.

Note to Zuckerberg  – if only you thought about Facebook a few months earlier, our Charlie and cherry could have made use of it and traced each other out much easily. Sigh.

My star rating was on the verge of a collapse now. ✪ ✪

A hanging child, a white horse and some heroics later, they find time for some more clunky chitchat. Finally decide to start a new life together. Which they do after a song ofcourse.Oh yes ,the movie ends it’s course. A clean shaven, moustache ,bearded, and back to moustache our Charlie, ooops, Harry comes a fully circle and dances to the credits – by which time we are the only souls respecting Pankaj Kapur’s debut effort in the theater.

Anecdotes –

On a serious note – it is perhaps easier to critique a movie than to make one.

I still have unflinching faith in Pankaj.Kapur as an actor, Shahid Kapur as a coming of age slowly but surely as an actor, Sonam at least trying to do something different actor.

But converting a story onto celluloid is a difficult ball game. Remember how Khaled Mohammed criticized Subhash Ghai’s Khalnayak ? He completely ripped the movie apart. Then a few years later he went on to make Fiza.And guess who reviewed it? Subhash Ghai,who obviously had the last laugh in the TOI review column.

Going back a few more years a movie called Vijeta ,1982, starring Shashi Kapoor,Rekha ,Supriya Pathak and little known Kunal Kapoor as a sardar – Angad Singh, directed by Govind Nihlani – was perhaps ahead of it’s times – where the main protagonist overcomes his personal fears to become a fighter pilot. It was a fantastic movie for its time and technology.

Which is why you would want to watch a more advanced version in a 2011 movie purely from a technology standpoint. Mausam fails even there. Had this been a non-pretentious movie like Bodyguard – which does not pretend to be intelligent, then so much of slice and dice was perhaps not called for. You see you don’t leave your brains behind while going to watch a Pankaj Kapoor movie.

Wonder why it was called Mausam in the first place? It looked more like  – missed dates story ! Too much hotchpotch. Sticking to one story line would have helped. Ironically Laqshya failed primarily for this reason.(and some inconsistencies)

Some options which could ve worked for Mausam –

Option 1 – Struggling village boy, overcomes challenges and makes it to IAF.

Option 2 – Village boy falls in love and braves riots, religion, and career to save his girl.

Option 3- No matter what they do- they just done make it. Tragedy version.

I guess you get the drift.

Actors like Supriya Pathak,Anupam Kher are almost if not completely wasted. There are some others, who don’t make a mark either, just because their roles were not clearly defined. So lesser said about them the better.

This review is detailed and long only because of the respect for the man Pankaj.Kapoor had anyone else directed ,It would have been less than 200 words.

Note to Pankaj Kapoor – Sir you are a genius actor, please remain there, or at least see the complete movie yourself before releasing it.I am sure you would have dismissed it.

Verdict.  Well… I would wait to watch it on TV  – and if I missed it – I would still live.



First published in

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