Film: Begum Jaan
Cast: Vidya Balan, Gauhar Khan, Pallavi Shah, Naseeruddin Shah, Chunky Pandey
Producer: Vishesh Films
Director: Srijit Mukherjee
The latest outing from Vishesh Films and Vidya Balan, Begum Jaan has finally seen the light of day for the audience to go and see. And here’s the review for all our readers so that they could make a choice. But, first, let’s start with the story line.
The story line of Begum Jaan is set in the 1947 partition era, where along with India gaining freedom from the Brits, the rulers which descended from the medieval royal families are rapidly losing importance and the idea of a formal government is something that all the country men are getting used to.
Here, the last British ruler, Lord Mountbatten, hands over his faithful sidekick Sir Cyril Radcliffe, the task to divide India into two countries: India and Pakistan with the help of barb wire fencing. But, a serious roadblock which stands in the way of their successful execution is a brothel which is run by the formidable Begum Jaan. Soon, Begum Jaan and her girls are given an eviction notice, which we all know from the trailer that she refuses to honor. Soon, after multiple failed attempts of the higher officials, a group of contract killers led by Chunky Pandey declares war, which forces the brothel owner and her family to resort to arms. Will they succeed in defending their home? One should watch the film for that.
Although an interesting subject which was indeed a remake of Srijit Mukherji’s own film, Begum Jaan sees a drastic fall in its tone. The opening scene is set in Delhi, 2016 and it suggests that the dynamics of power between men and women have been the same since the time of Independence. But, apart from a bunch of bold but yet non-sexual scenes and a bagful of hard hitting lines, Begum Jaan disappoints us thoroughly.
When we first meet Begum Jaan, she is ruthlessly seen slapping a new girl which sets our expectations from the character sky high. But slowly as the story line progresses, everything mellows down and in time Balan is seen as a less of a capable character while she’s seen playing the Abla Naari card by sucking up to an ageing, gramophone-loving king (Naseeruddin Shah) to get her out of the partition mess, the which was disheartening to see, to say the least.
And one common way where we see actors venting out their frustration by throwing stones in the water, which, in our opinion, is the WORST kind of venting out mechanism that there is. The film could have also done better overall if the government officials and the king weren’t shown as mere pawns to the Brits.
But, there are indeed some good parts to the film. Gauhar Khan, for one. She has done justice to her role and has delivered scenes on the screen which only a few would ever dare to do. Pitobash Tripathy, on the other hand, stole the show in what little screen time he had as Begum Jaan’s domestic help on screen with his spot-on mimicry. And, last but not the least, the image of Chunky Pandey as the ruthless, balding contract killer is going to stay in your minds for a while. And a round of applause goes to Rick Roy for his eye for detail when it comes to designing the outfits.
Our box-office opinion: With a disappointing storyline and a contender like Fast and Furious 8, Begum Jaan is going to have a rocky run at the theaters.
Our rating: 2.5/5 Stars