India emerged as an economic super power in 2004 while it brought the changes in the landscape of the country with globalization back in 1991. Nicholas Kharkongor’s debut film Mantra dwells into the life of a businessman named Kapil (Rajat Kapoor), whose iconic Kings Chips company is now going bankrupt and his family members. In a particular scene, the Union of Culture Preservation (the right wing) people destroy the club (bar) Mantra stating that the name hurts the sentiments (using the word, aastha) of the Hindus. I remember it was around 2004-05 that similar kind of attacks took place either to change the names to the local language instead of only English or it hurt the sentiments. As it takes us back in 2004, the film gives us a little glimpse and nostalgia about that period.
The characters written of the family members play a crucial role, like the daughter (Kalki Koechlin) coming to terms with her independence, the son (Shiv Pandit) setting up his own business, another son (Rohan Joshi) doomed with infatuation towards a married woman and the ignored wife (Lushin Dubey) having marital crisis. This is a developed family unlike the developing country which is slower, in a scene characters discuss about the newly formed state Jharkhand, its existence, the migration and the non-development. At the end of the scene, in front of them is a flyover under which migrated families have set up their homes. The film speaks very well of the development and the period back then, but the Screenplay and setting too staged. A character claims about the protagonist that, “To make it, you need to fake it.” Here the director seems to fake it a lot with his failing script, it gets messy.
The film reminds you of Zoya Akhtar’s Dil Dhadakne Do (2015), but it was layered and in-depth films whereas this film stays out of connect. The characters feel like deliberately written as to give the crucial importance while the dialogues seem glossy. The film loses its soul as soon as it establishes the plot, but one thing prevails to the core i.e. the nostalgia and the loneliness amidst the growing development.
Rajat Kapoor gives a brilliant performance and has the ability to carry the film on his shoulders- highlight is when he goes to meet his ailing Mother. Kalki Koechlin spices up the film when she comes on the screen. Her scene with Adil Hussain (steals in a small cameo) stands out with sheer excellent acting abilities. The technical aspects of the film are decent; overall it could be termed as a well-tried attempt.
The market is going outdated, while the Daughter rebels to move out of her outdate thinking house where she has no complete freedom. Even though the film is slightly outdated- the “liberalization” it causes the characters and to viewers in span of just 1 hour 20 minutes is heart-wrenching.
The worst part of the film is its outdated CENSORSHIP; many dialogues are muted along with words like gay, lesbian, fuck, fuck you and even sex. Is this development? Well, gratefully Pahlaj Nihalani (Head of Censor Board) has been replaced.
Release: 17 March, 2017
Director: Nicholas Khargonkor
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