Shah Rukh Khan’s character Rizwan Khan said in a 2010 film “My Name Is Khan and I’m not a Terrorist,” a similar sentiment is echoed in Rishi Kapoor and Tapsee Pannu starrer ‘Mulk’. The director Anubhav Sinha have successfully managed to take this topical subject and play it out in the courtroom, blasting most of the prejudices against Islam and Terrorism. The talk of ‘us’ and ‘them’, which constantly reverberates in the minds of gullible people is also portrayed with efficiency.
A lawyer, Murad Ali Mohammad (Rishi Kapoor) walks to a tea stall in his nearby lane after his morning aazan , his fellow companion greets him Ram-Ram and Ali responds with Salaam waalekum. 30 kg of meat is prepared for Ali’s 65th birthday, friends of different religions are invited, a certain Chaubey who claims he is a vegetarian devours a plate of kebabs. Murad’s wife Tabassum (Neena Gupta) requests the guests to have food, she also says she’s prepared vegetarian food for the non meat eaters. A slight olderly lady says, “Naach- gaana thik hai par hum inke yaha pe khana nahi khate,” and this is only the beginning of the long list of prejudices that are existent in today’s society that needs to be put-off right away.
Shahid (Prateik Babbar) commits an act of terror. His father, Bilal (Manoj Pahwa) and inturns the whole family is held accountable for Shahid’s henious crime, sighting that they are also involved in the act. Prosecutor Santosh Anand (Ashutosh Rana) turns a case of terrorism into a Hindu versus Muslim debate. He questions their illiteracy, their custom of multiple marriages, even blandly questions the number of kids a Muslim family has. He tries to relate terrorism to Islam.
How will Murad Ali Mohammad prove loyalty to his country ? How could he change the view of his fellow Hindu companions about him? What does it mean to be a Muslim in today’s times where communal hatred is rampant ?
Ali’s daughter-in-law Aarti Mohammad (Taapsee Pannu) takes it in her own hands to burst these myths as she quotes the definition of terrorism – “the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims,” -which doesn’t mention a particular religion anywhere. She relates untouchability also an act of terrorism. Aarti rightfully states, “Terrorism is not a communal act but a criminal act.”
The performances in ‘Mulk’ takes the written material to a different level. Rishi Kapoor plays the head of the family – Murad Ali Mohammad with great depth. He is compelling in the impactful dialogues, at the same time emotes empathy and he is ably supported by Taapsee Pannu. Taapsee delivers a perfectly balanced performance. She plays the lawyer delivering lengthy dialogues to perfection. Her duet with the prosecution lawyer, played by Ashutosh Rana is pitch perfect.
Manoj Pahwa, who we have often seen in comic roles, leaves a lasting impact as Bilal. Rajat Sharma plays the anti-terrorist officer with ease and so does Kumud Misra who plays the judge. Prateik Babbar, Neena Gupta and Prachee Shah Pandya are also impressive in their respective roles.
Direction & Dialogues :
Anubhav Sinha who has earlier directed ‘Tum Bin’, ‘Ra-one’, has also written ‘Mulk’. What works the best for the director is the casting and the dialogues. The camera-work is a bit underwhelming and so is the editing. The film could easily have been 20 minutes shorter.
‘Mulk’ raises a strong subject that needs to be addressed and particularly in today’s scenario that there is nothing as ‘us’ and ‘them’, its ‘WE’.
Verdict : ❤️❤️❤️ 1/2
Director : Anubhav Sinha
Cast : Rishi Kapoor, Taapsee Pannu, Manoj Pahwa, Neena Gupta, Prateik Babbar, Rajat Kapoor, Kumud Mishra, Ashutosh Rana, Prachee Shah Paandya, Vartika Singh, Ashrut Jain & Indraneil Sengupta
Producer – Deepak Mukut & Anubhav Sinha