Synopsis – Raghu and Zoya are in love until a gang leader with harmful intentions turns their world upside down.
My Take – Mass cinema ruled the Indian box office and the audience’s taste for the better part of 70s, 80s and the 90s, a time where nearly every film used to be hyper-sensational, if not, it used to be considered artsy. Mostly built around a familiar plot of pitting the godly do-gooder male lead against a monstrous and immoral antagonist, with a salad dressing of a sensational love story and a jarring melodrama pinch.
However, as time passed, with a change in audience’s taste, this dominating film making style withered into oblivion, with only traces of it left to be found in Salman Khan Starrers and the ones helmed by Prabhudeva.
But for some reason, director Milap Zaveri, who tasted directorial success with last year’s decent Satyamev Jayate, seems keen on bringing back the mass mania into trend. As evident from the promos of the film, which also pulled a casting coup by pitting Riteish Deshmukh and Sidharth Malhotra once again after the very successful Ek Villain (2014), director Zaveri aimed to double down on his earlier success by providing an old fashioned romantic musical with heightened action sequences and a viva of one liners.
However, while the film is technically sound in its own right, in today’s time, it is hard to see this one find acceptance, as the current film goer is unforgiving of the very obvious clichés that director Zaveri has decides to rely completely on. In simpler terms, if for some reason, you have an urgent craving for a recap of the forgotten era, you could try to sit through this, otherwise, it’s best to skip a watch in theaters and wait for its television premiere.
The story follows Raghu (Siddharth Malhotra), a goon who works for Narayan Anna (Nassar), the local water mafia king, who adopted him when he was a young orphan. Feared by everyone, but his friends, which includes Aarzoo (Rakul Preet Singh), a bar dance has been in love with him since forever, Raghu enforces Narayan Anna’s rule to the thumb.
However, his violent lifestyle takes a turn when he meets Zoya (Tara Sutaria), a mute Kashmiri Girl, who is in town to select musically inclined children for a music festival back in Kashmir. Witnessing Zoya’s efforts to reform the neighborhood by steering them towards music and away from an otherwise inevitable life of crime, Raghu falls in love with her and is convinced that she is his opportunity for a new and better existence.
However, an incident puts them both in cross hairs with Vishnu (Riteish Deshmukh), Anna’s birth son, who is only 3 feet long and has always held a grudge against Raghu for receiving favoritism from his father. Hence, setting up a bloody battle between the good and evil.
Right from the first scene, the film takes us down a memory lane of how films used to be made nearly three decades ago, where the prime element of every film was to woo the mass audience with its action, romance, emotion, and drama. As mentioned above, director Zaveri remains loyal to the milieu by offering some slick action sequences and garnished speeches. Which in my opinion would have worked, if only there was a solid emotional conflict at the heart of the story.
Here, the betrayals and the plot twists fail to make any impact, including the reasoning behind the central conflict. Unfortunately, the predictable plot is not the only problem here the film also resorts to all possible cinematic clichés. Director Zaveri, who has also written some deplorable adult comedies and directed a film like Mastizaade, ditches high-decibel sexist humor in favor of dialogues that are used as embellishments and are over-dramatic.
Most in the absence of any sense or political depths, end making zero sense. Moreover, the religious messaging doesn’t go deeper than placing a bright green mosque in front of a bright orange temple, giving Raghu five religious tattoos and using the cliché Ram and Raavan metaphor.
Director Zaveri wants to take a stand against mob lynching but resorts to employing Kashmir as a convenient tool to draw sympathy. What’s worse, between all this he throws in a couple of skimpily clad item numbers, focused on the gorgeous Nora Fatehi and Rakul Preet Singh grooving in an inane song-and-dance outing.
Nevertheless, the music is the one of the biggest highlights of the film is the music. Even the background score is quite good and it gels up with the theme of the film.
Nevertheless, the performances are what keeps the film engaging. The usually restrained Sidharth Malhotra is excellent in the angry young man form akin to Amitabh Bachchan from 70s. He looks perfect for the character and has performed very well. Riteish Deshmukh, a much underrated actor, who seems to be stuck in franchise comedies, once again brings out his mean side in a glorious turn. While his character as not as nuanced as it was in Ek Villain, he seems to be having a blast playing the deplorable dwarf.
Tara Sutaria had failed to impress in Student of the Year 2, however here, she finds a better footing, and no doubt also looks drop dead gorgeous. The stunning Rakul Preet Singh adds another very confident performance to her growing filmography. In supporting roles, Nassar, Ravi Kishan and Shaad Randhawa are alright in their respective parts. On the whole, ‘Marjaavaan’ is a flagging massy-entertainer led down by faltered screenplay and old school filmmaking.
Directed – Milap Zaveri
Rated – PG13
Run Time – 152 minutes