Begum Jaan

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Begum Jaan
Begum Jaan

“BEGUM JAAN” is much ado about nothing!

Extremely loud on your ears, this highly melodramatic historic drama lacks substance, subtlety and relevance. Fraught with gaping holes in its screenplay, BEGUM JAAN has visual appeal, but in the end, you realize that all this propaganda in the film surrounding events like partition and independence is just inconsequential. Watchable in your free time, but not recommended!

BEGUM JAAN is a story of 11 fearless women running a brothel in a building which incidentally falls in the way of the border line of partition, separating India and Pakistan. Standing up against the system, amidst the changing political scenario during the partition, these women fight hard for their rights.

Visually, the film works just fine, depicting convincingly the era in which it is set. But it’s the screenplay that falters big time. Over-written and underthought, the film has melodrama seeded deeply in every scene. You wish such depth existed in the script itself. Slow-motion filming to enhance the dramatic effect gives you the feel of a film of the 90’s. There are portions inserted to provoke thought, but director Srijit Mukherjee treats them with such a heavy hand that they hardly have an effect. Like the hoopla around the Radcliffe line that separates India and Pakistan, or the one-liners dismissing caste-differences between Hindu-Muslims, or even topics like patriarchy prevalent in our society, could’ve been handled more deftly to infuse real emotions. Even the story of the ladies living in the brothel is surface-level. Their problems are reduced to shrieking and fighting over paltry issues with each other. Scrubbing beneath the surface is something director Mukherjee didn’t seem interested in at all. The music by Anu Mallik is average by all standards.

The performances are loud and mostly sub-par. Barring Vidya Balan, who puts in some genuineness in her poorly-written character, most of the female actors just can’t act. While great actors like Rajit Kapur, Ashish Vidyarthi and Rajesh Sharma are reduced to caricatures, Chunky Pandey and Vivek Mushran appear in roles lacking any punch whatsoever. Naseeruddin Shah appears in a cameo, which again is inconsequential.

To sum up, BEGUM JAAN is a melodrama fest which neither does justice to the idea it professes nor succeeds in entertaining you. Avoidable!

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