Only an actor as fine as Rajkumar Rao or Nawazuddin Siddiqui or Irrfan Khan can deliver a performance better than Vineet Kumar Singh this year. I wonder even if they could bring such wonders to the screen.
Mukkabaaz is a story about a man (Shravan Singh, played by Vineet) struggling between two of his passions – boxing and love. But this is an Anurag Kashyap film. It is not just about what is on the surface. There is much more to it and the more themes Kashyap deals with, the better the film becomes. In the hands of another director, this could have resulted in a disaster, but perhaps, Kashyap’s greed (as a storyteller) gives him the edge. The film is about politics in the field of sports, caste system, gender discrimination and even the value and power of education.
After Gangs of Wasseypur, this is my favourite film of Anurag Kashyap and not just because of his storytelling technique, but mostly because of the performances by both, Vineet Kumar Singh and debutante Zoya Hussain.
When a typical ‘Hindi film hero’ goes into a transformation and builds up a body, you see a hint of maine itne achi body banai hai, isko dekho. But Vineet leaves the mere thought of his vanity in his vanity van and brings zero of the effort that he might have put in to make that chiseled body for this film. But that is not all the effort he has put in, unlike some Hero. The mental, emotional and psychological adaptations that he has dealt with and brought out so beautifully in front of the camera are plain commendable. This is why I wonder how a performance in the coming year could match up to this level!
Zoya Hussain is no ‘mere prop’ in this film. Socially, her character Sunaina may be just a puppet in the hands of the men of the family, but Hussain brings boldness into her. She hits the right chords and she doesn’t feel uncomfortable at all despite this being her first film. Her character is mute and that could have worked as a huge disadvantage and could have turned out to be her biggest risk but credit where it is due – Kashyap manages to bring out the best from her.
Jimmy Shergill plays the antagonist, Bhagwan Das Mishra and is, as always, terrific. The mere thought that mera naam Bhagwan Das hai, aur main Bhagwan hu gives him so much to do! Ravi Kishan as the Coach is also a treat to look at!
The film does fall in the second half and it is a little too stretched, but you will not complain. That is the brilliance of Kashyap!
All in all, I would suggest that you don’t miss this film because it sure is a pleaser.