Have you ever filled any type of form? What do you fill in the column of nationality?
But have you ever questioned yourself why?
Silly isn’t it? After all, we all belong to this great nation of ours, India. By birth, we are all Indians.
Then why some people are known by their religion, caste, colour? Why we straightaway label some people, based on their appearance? The answer is quite simple you see, we worship our forefather’s gods, so we identify and continue with their prejudices as well. Prejudice is something, that stays with people, penetrated in the deeper regions of the heart. At the drop of a hat or in a moment of heat, it comes out and often clouds judgement. Director Anubhav Sinha’s ‘Mulk’ speaks about the prejudices that people bear about an average Muslim. It’s an important film in today’s times.
A Muslim family, which has been residing in a quaint corner of a small township for many years, gets shattered when one of their kins is found to be involved in a terrorist attack. The kin is killed by police in an encounter and the subsequent investigation reveals the family’s connection with the terror planning. As the family tries to get through the grief, two more members get accused by the prosecuting lawyer of being involved in the attacks, including the head of the family. How the family rises through this mayhem, forms the crux of the story.
The film aims to ask some difficult questions to the audience. And it is successful in creating doubts in the heads as well. There’s a constant pressure building up, as the scenes unfurl. And as an audience, you start getting involved in the proceedings. Anubhav Sinha creates a believable world where the next door neighbour who was an ally till the attack and immediately changes his stance to turn into a hatemonger later. The prejudices that he tries to explain, is shown in Muslims as well, where a fellow Muslim police officer, admits that a few rotten apples, indeed spoil the whole lot. The proceedings at the court, do go overboard at times, where the lawyers keep throwing insults and jibes at the accused men. One can argue that for a film, it’s necessary to go a little melodramatic with the scenes. Despite these, the film rises to put across its point.
The film features some of the stalwarts in acting. Here, director Anubhav Sinha scores brownie points in the casting. Rishi Kapoor, Neena Gupta, Manoj Pahwa, Rajat Kapoor bring authenticity to their characters. Especially Manoj Pahwa as the hapless father of the accused brings tears to the eyes. There’s a scene where Rishi Kapoor, the elder brother, asks his brother about the accusation and all the sibling can say about is how they spoke to each other after two years of silence. It’s poignant and bound to bring tears to the eyes. Tapsee Pannu, as the daughter-in-law and defence lawyer for the family, looks vulnerable yet gives a thunderous performance. Ashutosh Rana as the lawyer representing the Government is spiteful and echoes the sentiments, the prejudices of the majority. Kumud Mishra, as the presiding judge, has an interesting role.
‘Mulk’ is an important film in today’s times, where mandates and opinions are dictated by the social media. It compels you to have an argument about the prejudices and presumptions about an entire religion being involved in terror activities. You may or may not agree with the film, but it will lead you to question the society and the system around us. Not pseudo jingoism but a reality check. And that’s what is really needed.
The Cinemawala Rating: 3.5/5