Begum Jaan Movie Review: Melodramatic Masala
When the trailer of Vidya Balan-starrer Begum Jaan was released, it created a stir because of its bold concept and dialogues liberally peppered with cuss words. The trailer certainly had our attention, but does the film have our approval too? Let’s find out…
The remake of Bengali film Rajkahini, Begum Jaan revolves around the titular character (Vidya Balan) and her bevy of sex workers, who operate in a sprawling old brothel in rural North India in the pre-Independence era. When the Independence of India also marks the Partition of the country in Hindustan and Pakistan, the very existence of the brothel is threatened when the line dividing the two countries is drawn though the brothel.
Government officials of both the countries (Ashish Vidyarthi and Rajit Kapoor) approach the Begum to ask her to evacuate the brothel, but on getting a hostile response, the two are compelled to unleash diabolical assassin Kabir (Chunkey Pandey) and his bunch of cut-throats on the women. Will Begum and her girls manage to vanquish the enemy?
Vidya Balan, who impressed us with her powerful performance in Kahaani 2, unleashes her intensity in this film, but there is something insincere about her throaty growl and menacing scowl that rankles, especially when we have seen Balan at her best in a film like Kahaani. The rest of the cast, comprising Pallavi Sharda, Ila Arun, Gauahar Khan, Rajit and Ashish are strictly decent while Chunkey, with his stained teeth and an air of restrained menace, is a sheer delight to watch. Naseeruddin Shah, who plays the local monarch, hasn’t put many efforts in the role and performs his minimal best.
As for the movie itself, there is no denying the fact that it has certain powerful moments and a lot of 'seeti maar' dialogues. However, at times, the film seems to be trying too hard to achieve shock value than anything else. We all get it that prostitutes do swear and cuss, but when the actresses do it in almost every dialogue in the film, it somehow doesn’t come across as natural.
The film has a very ‘over the top’ feel to it with loads of melodrama aimed at popular entertainment. Had the filmmaker adopted a restrained approach, the impact might have been much more powerful. To add to the list of flaws, there is a lot of spoon-feeding that the director indulges in and the constant references to historical heroines like Jhansi Ki Rani, Razia Sultana and Rani Padmavati, may tempt you to roll your eyes atleast once during the movie.
Having said that, if you are looking for a purely commercial entertainer with loads of melodrama and powerful dialogues, Begum Jaan might not disappoint you…
Release Date : 14 April 2017
Director : Srijit Mukherji
Cast : Vidya Balan, Ila Arun, Vivek Mushran, Naseeruddin Shah, Ridheema Tiwari, Gauahar Khan, Pallavi Sharda, Pitobash Tripathi, Rajesh Sharma, Flora Saini, Mishti, Sumit Nijhawan, Rajit Kapoor, Priyanka Sethia, Ravija Chauhan, Poonam Rajput, Ashish Vidyarthi
Genre : Drama