Movie Review: Mausam ain’t awesome, but Shahid Kapoor is fabulous
Shahid is fabulous in the role, Sonam insipid. As for Kapur Sr, who makes his directorial debut with the film — his attempt to create a timeless romance leaves you feeling like you're watching a love story in real-time.
The story begins in Mallukot, Punjab, and the year is 1992. Mallukot is replete with all the typical elements that make up a filmi village – the yellow sarson khets, tractors, bicycles, tangas, the odd car on dust-ridden pathways, and the usual banter of village folk and the elderly. The village is set to stage a quaint romance that you can't wait to see unfold.
The film is a love story between Harry Singh (Shahid Kapoor), a Hindu Punjabi boy, and Ayat Rasool (Sonam Kapoor), a Kashmiri Muslim girl who has moved in with her paternal aunt, Fatima Bua due to the ongoing uprising in Kashmir.
The story is set against the political strife in India and the US: the Babri Masjid horror, the 1993 Mumbai blasts, 9/11 in the USA, Kargil and the Ahmedabad blasts. The film is so long that it could have accommodated a couple more of the heinous terror attacks in India in that much time.
It's "loaf at first sight" for Harry when he goes to the village bakery one morning to get his daily bread. He is transfixed as Ayat hands him the loaves, bursting into peals of laughter reminiscing of the first time she saw him in her burkha-clad avatar, covered in gunk from the fields. Harry, who had until then, always wanted an English mem, is hopelessly in love from that minute on and the song Rabba captures the emotions beautifully. Stolen glances and faux cycle chain repairs aside, Harry finally musters enough courage to ask Ayat on a rainy afternoon, "Baarish khatam hone se pehle bata dena ki main zinda rahoon ya mar jaoon," to which she says, "Kal subah jab bakery aaoge toh bata doongi."
This exchange is the only clue to Harry's passionate love for Ayat and it takes many, many reels to know how she really feels subsequently as the plot stretches out from Mallukot to Scotland to Switzerland, and finally, Ahmedabad.
Harry and Ayat are separated by destiny and some really strong divine forces because every time it seems like they have finally found each other for good, the plot moves into another complicated hurdle that throws them further apart.
The Scotland run-in is strange as she spots him in his dashing IAF pilot avatar at a streetside café after seven years but chooses not to speak to him! Err, after seven years of wanting to meet him, playing hide-and-seek is really not the way to get your man! What if she were to lose him again? Nah! Ayat prefers the old sighing and pining from a safe distance approach. It takes him to spot her walking down a street and chase her around for coffee. Thank God! Otherwise the film would drag on for three more hours!
When there are perfectly plausible and natural reasons for the couple to meet each other, one of them voluntarily or involuntarily misses the chance and if you see the film, you'll know there are many. But when they do meet in an extremely heroic circumstance wherein he saves her life towards the end of the film, it seems a tad contrived.
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Shahid is fabulous in the role. He plays both, the happy-go-lucky village boy and the sophisticated IAF pilot with natural ease and a beguiling charm. He has an Abercrombie and Fitch model moment in the film where his abs are up for display, albeit for a few, measured seconds. Sonam is not convincing as the Kashmiri girl-turned ballet dancer. She is insipid in her portrayal of the character.
The film is just a bit under three hours, but it feels longer. It is tedious to see the umpteen hits and misses of the silent love between the couple; they exchange some mehndi and ink-written notes and the occasional smiles, etc, and some melodious songs, too, but there is just no sizzle between them, despite the lip-lock.
You will not laugh or cry in the film but you will tire of the mela sequence where Harry saves the little girl on the ferris wheel in the most dramatic way. How he came down from that height with the kid is the question that is left unanswered as is the emergency landing of the fighter plane he is piloting that leaves him battered, bruised, and with an immobile arm. The director's creative license is questionable in these two scenes.
Mausam is Pankaj Kapur's first film as a director and he worked on it for four years. The story idea is wonderful and the visuals filmed by Binod Pradhan are stunning, but the length of the film is a big disadvantage. In trying to create the timelessness of the romance, Kapur senior's pace of the film felt like it was all happening in real time. You will come away loving Shahid's performance, if not the film or the romance.
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