Sports dramas have always followed a format that is quite familiar to us. There is an underdog who aspires to be big. And films in this category would showcase his triumph in becoming a champion. What’s interesting about Anurag Kashyap’s Mukkabaaz is that the triumph he shows in this film is not about the victory of the hero inside the boxing ring but what he manages to do outside that ring in real life.
Shravan Singh wants to be a boxer and he works with a retired boxer turned politician Bhagwan Das Mishra. Frustrated by the slave treatment he had to face at Bhagwan Dass’ place, Shravan leaves the place and leaves Bhagwan Das in anger. In the meantime Shravan also falls in love with Bhagwan Das’ niece. Bhagwan only became angrier by this act and how he tries to make life miserable for Shravan and how Shravan eventually overcomes all this is what Mukkabaaz talking about.
Cinema can be a strong medium for skilled film makers to make their political statements very clearly and loudly. The bizarreness in UP’s political climate gets depicted in its raw format here. The right wing villain who belongs to upper caste and gets trashed by a Dalit who is screaming Bharat Mata Ki Jai, was nothing short from a bold political statement of the director who never shied away from expressing opinion. The fact that the hurdles our hero has to jump over are mostly against the system, makes the conflict of Mukkabaaz more unique. It gave a hint of doing something too filmy in the end, but Anurag Kashyap keeps it grounded and makes it a possible story.
Vineeth Kumar Singh who previously did a memorable role in Kashyap’s segment in Bombay Talkies makes his first hero entry a fabulously authentic portrayal of a boxer. I think the effort he put in the physical transformation has helped him in being more true to the character. The next fabulous star is Jimmy Shergil who with that red blood eye was a solid antagonist. The caste arrogance and other aspects of that character were performed very neatly by the actor. The mute heroine played by Zoya Hussain had the charm to convince us on why she was a driving factor. Ravi Kishan was also a perfect choice. The people in the supporting cast also suited the landscape of the film and a special mention to that actor who did the role of Shravan’s friend.
Anurag Kashyap at some points gave me an impression that Mukkabaaz would be his first filmy film. But luckily it wasn’t. The writer’s credit of the film has almost 5 people including Vineeth Kumar Singh and I will have to believe that a lot of improvisation has happened during the shooting (At one scene a minister says Muhammed Ali is from Kerala). The usual rawness in scenes, uninhibited conversations and real portrayal of violence is there in this Anurag Kashyap movie too. The edits are crisp and the cinematography done by five men starting from Rajeev Ravi to Jayesh Mohan, was also something that suited the mood of the movie. As always Anurag has packaged it with peculiar songs and Prashant Pillai’s background score was also convincing. The fights are real and authentic and that does give the movie a place among good sports dramas.
Mukkabaaz has authenticity to its credit and a fearless narrative that dares to question the untouched powerful people. With quality performances backing the story, this movie is worth watching for sure.
Rating: 3.5/5 Bhaarat Mata Ki Jai…
Mukkabaaz has authenticity to its credit and a fearless narrative that dares to question the untouched powerful people.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended