Bucket List movie review: Madhuri Dixit lets her hair down in a sweet film that could have been much more
Madhuri Dixit is both restrained and uninhibited in Bucket List, striking a balance between her inherent reality and acquired stardom.
castMadhuri Dixit, Sumeet Raghavan, Shubha Khote, Renuka Shahane, Sumedh Mudgalkar, And Ranbir Kapoor In A Cameo
directorTejas Prabha Vijay Deoskar
After watching Bucket List, fans of Madhuri Dixit can surmise that a Marathi film would have been on the actress' bucket list for a long time. In an exclusive interaction, Madhuri confessed to this writer that Marathi cinema feels like a homecoming for her, one that her life evaded all these years.
Truer words were never spoken as Madhuri escapes, for most part, the trappings of being the Bollywood dancing diva, and slips into the shoes of her character Madhura Sane. She is a homemaker who is content within her restricted space, grateful to her heart donor who blessed her with a renewed life that, she later realises, lacks purpose. She then takes it upon herself to check all the boxes in the bucket list of her deceased donor, a teenager named Sai Deshpande. However, as she rediscovers herself in the process, she is torn between an ambitious woman's guilt and her renewed vigour.
Embracing her mother tongue helps her to return to a more organic role that may have gotten lost in the process of conquering Bollywood and living a remotely different life in the US after marriage.
She makes the most of her homecoming by digging her teeth into the meaty lead role, rather than just using them to flash a 100 watt smile. She wears a Nauvari style sari but does not break into a lavani dance every now and then. Madhuri lets her hair down yet pulls off a restrained performance by striking a balance between her inherent reality and acquired stardom.
Even during the much-anticipated climax when she is expected to perform in front of a crowd, she holds the dancer back and does not put her best foot forward as it would have compromised her role of a reluctant performer. However, it will be conceived as a sheer underutilisation of talent if you do not make Madhuri Dixit dance despite having her in the film. So choreographer Shampa Gopikrishna does give Madhuri her 30 seconds of fame through her signature Kathak recital in the middle of the climactic sequence.
Director Tejas Prabha Vijay Deoskar also taps into Madhuri's mainstream heroine potential by placing her in a romantic song alongside her husband, played by a perpetually spot-on Sumeet Raghavan. But even he seems to shudder while romancing Madhuri in the romantic track, given her unceasing elegance. Shaan, Shreya Ghoshal and Sadhana Saragam serenade the tunes by Rohan Gokhale and Rohan Pradhan but the entire song-and-dance affair, irrespective of how soothing it feels, proves to be only a major deviation from what is a compelling storyline.
But even the screenplay, that would have benefited immensely from the intriguing story, falters after the interval. Co-written by Devashree Shivadekar and the director, the screenplay finds itself as disoriented as the unassuming protagonist. While both of them do find themselves in the end, Madhura's coming-of-age story stands diluted because of the multiple convolutions that did not allow her to fly without abandon, as high as she could have.
The rest of the writing is not half bad. As the trailer suggests, the dialogues penned by the same duo lift the film from a flat out bore to a palatable laugh-out-loud comedy. The best lines, besides Madhura, are given to her grandmother-in-law Panji, played by an inimitable and unflagging Shubha Khote. After all, she plays the mother of all cool mother-in-laws, who recommends Madhura to chuck a wine, whiskey and tequila (in the same order) while at a plub.
Special mention to Sumedh Mudgalkar who plays Salil Deshpande, Sai's twin brother. He channels his deep sense of loss through clinched fists, welled up eyes and a combustible body language that provides the perfect counter to Madhura's undiminished effervescence. Also, it is a delight to watch the charming Renuka Shahane reunite with her Hum Aapke Hain Koun..! sister after 24 years.
With Bucket List, director Tejas may have given a larger canvas to his music composer, singers, lyricist Mandar Cholkar, costume director Chandrakant Sonavane and art director Siddharth Tatooskar by allowing them to splash their favourite colours. But what he may have not realised in doing so is that he diluted the iridescent streak that Madhuri brought with her natural performance and the same that editor Abhijeet Deshpande could have brought, had he been given a free hand.
The memorable lead role of Bucket List allows Madhuri to look as glamorous in a leather jacket while riding a Harley Davidson as in a simple Maharashtrian sari. It lets her exploit her impeccable comic timing in a hilarious drunken scene (yes, the one with Ranbir Kapoor) just like it allows her to assert her desires in a powerful confrontational scene with a convincingly clueless Raghavan. But what it bars her from accomplishing is proving her worth as an actor, just because she needs to pay her dues as a performer.
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