Mausam (2011) – Review
Whether it started off with the Deol family’s ‘No if, no but – only Jat’ entourage, or with the arrival of rhythm-heavy UK Bhangra into film lore, the Punjab-infatuation is still garnering strength in Bollywood. Pankaj Kapur’s love against the annals of time story Mausam is one of the few films which gives us a delectable peek into a Punjabi village and culture – and is one of the few films after Monsoon Wedding to actually give the traditional Punjabi norms a shade of cinematic likability and freshness. Regrettably, as soon as the film unfolds onto greater purpose and intention, it breaks faster than a Kumhari matka, spilling water all over its earlier cinematic deeds.
The first half of the film promises much albeit it’s colossal length. Harry (Shahid Kapur) is a troublesome yet harmless village kid, a budding air-force pilot awaiting his acceptance letter while keeping himself busy in the idleness of daily life in the village. He eventually becomes deeply infatuated with Ayat (Sonam), a Kashmiri-Muslim girl. Before the romance can develop and due to situations beyond their control, they are separated and find themselves in Scotland after a gap of many years. Harry is now an accomplished squadron leader on an officer-exchange program, and Ayat is residing with her father and uncle. Albeit Harry’s sudden cliché transformation into a no-nonsense pilot (patriotic soldiers aren’t supposed to have fun, remember?), their love prospers and they seem ready to settle down. However, the mounting fiasco in Kargil forces Harry to desert his love for Ayat for the love of the motherland. What follows next is a back and forth search in which either are unable to get in touch with the other. Rest assured, Cinema Paradiso, this is not.
Pankaj Kapur goes to great pains to give ‘Mausam’ the feel of an epic; crevassed over a long time period, unfolding itself around real life historical events such as Badshahi Mosque demolition and September 11, much in line with a Forrest Gump. As is often the case when a writer or painter sits down with the sole intention to construct a masterpiece of great proportions, the film falls flat on its chest and just inches from it’s face.
The decade of hustle and bustle leads to the mother of climatic action sequences, inherent to all Bollywood filmmakers from pre-theological foundations yet undetermined. If the film was a decent output so far, it goes down the drain with the most shocking elements propping into the fold, urging even the most resolute cinema aficionados to throw in their white towels. ‘Just how good would our air-force hero be if he hasn’t saved a single horse or farm animal from a surging fire?’ pondered Pankaj as he gave penned the final touches to his magnum opus.
The latter half of the film is the desperate search of the two to unite amidst all the intricacies of socio-political change affecting them. It’s the tried and drained formula of missed-by-a-whisker phone calls, unread letters, mistaken identities and closing doors which prevent the two protagonists from being re-united. The only thing missing was a passenger pigeon flying back and forth.
Binodh Pradhan’s cinematography is profound and apt; unequivocally easy on the eye, wherever across the world our beloved scriptwriter takes us. His portrayal of a Punjabi village is raw and true to life, displaying the traditional richness of it’s culture with subtle use of lens and movement. The CGI-effects to compliment the aerial photography are disappointing by most standards, but do work well for Bollywood, considering it is an art only taken seriously in terms of financial input post-Endhiran.
Pritam’s score tries to keep up with the action, with the not-so-unpredictable bag of goodies present in most of the Bengali composer’s soundtracks: the melancholic sufiana song, the two dance tracks, the out-and-out love ballad, and what not. On paper at least, Pritam does what was required of him in terms of a decent visual accompaniment.
Shahid’s portrayal of the young Punjabi-lad would do his father proud, the young Kapur has all the goods. It’s his stereotypical portrayal of the young mustached pilot where the mammoth burden of his father’s script falls on shoulders and thrusts him to the ground. Sonam Kapoor performs well throughout the film, looking great and doing justice to her role. To give credit to the film, the supporting characters at once likable – and do give the film some of its lighter, more enjoyable moments.
As is usually the case for film’s with low content, there is the happy-go-merry dance track in the end. The unfortunate case of Mausam is that it was a film with all the right intentions, but just was not plotted down on a good day. And on such a day, the film does enough to get 2.5 out of 5 stars, despite the unforgivable horse of a climax – Ali Umair Chaudhry