Was asked a pertinent question while watching this film: Is the audience mature enough to handle the portrayal of female sexuality on screen? Well, first and foremost, moviegoers are mature enough to understand and laud good themes and subjects and Mirch, which director Vinay Shukla refers to as "a celebration of womanhood", narrates four separate stories based on issues of women emancipation and also dabbles with gender equality in a relationship. It's a sex comedy with generous doses of wit; not a serious take on feminism. Again, it is erotic in parts, but not vulgar. We've seen lots of films dealing with male sexuality, but Mirch deals with women's libido and that too in a funny way.
Vinay Shukla is capable of combining the subtlety of good cinema within the accepted communicative form. His new effort is structurally quite innovative, something that hasn't been tried yet. However, I wish to clarify that the four individualistic stories in Mirch aren't remotely similar to the Darna Mana Hai, Darna Zaroori Hai and Dus Kahaniyaan format. There's a fifth story that connects to them.
The first story, from 'Panchtantra', is placed in ancient times, while the second is placed in medieval times and inspired from the 14th century Italian classic 'The Decameron' by Italian author Giovanni Boccaccio. The third is from an Italian fable set in contemporary times and the fourth has been written by Shukla himself. Interesting stories all, but the level of interest in those four stories fluctuates radically. While the first two stories are wonderful, mainly because the 'games' women play in those stories catch you by complete surprise, the third and fourth stories are a sharp contrast. You feel let down because they're outright predictable and not a patch on the ones that you had watched in the first hour.
Final word? Mirch has two stories in the first half [great] and two stories in the second [disappointing], while the fifth one, which binds all the earlier tales, is a downer as well. Eventually, it falls short of expectations!
Maanav [Arunoday Singh] is a struggling writer unwilling to compromise on the script he has written. His girlfriend Ruchi [Konkona Sen Sharma], a successful film editor, arranges for him to meet Nitin [Sushant Singh], a film producer. Nitin likes the script, but is not very sure of its commercial prospects. Maanav then suggests a story from the Panchtantra: A woman [Raima Sen] is caught red-handed with her lover [Arunoday Singh] by her husband [Rajpal Yadav] and yet, she manages to wriggle out of it scot-free.
Nitin loves the story, but finds it too short for a feature film. Maanav then creates three more stories based on the same premise. In a way, the Panchtantra story travels in different versions to the modern times through the film. The four stories are woven together by a common story.
What needs to be appreciated is the fact that Vinay Shukla presents a serious issue [adultery] in a light-hearted manner. In fact, not once do you feel that he is trying to make a serious comment on femininity or sexuality. There are a few love-making scenes, but they have been aesthetically shot. Nothing sleazy about them. But, like I pointed out earlier, while the writing in the pre-interval portions is excellent, with the narrative keeping the viewer engrossed, it's the screenplay in the post-interval portions that doesn't live up to the expectations. In fact, the film gets tedious after a point, towards the finale specifically.
There's not much scope for music in Mirch and although there're a couple of tracks, 'Badra' [Monty Sharma] is easily the best of the lot. It has a haunting tune and its placement in the narrative is appropriate. Also noteworthy are the dialogue, especially in the first two stories.
Mirch stars some of the best names in the business. Konkona is excellent, Raima conveys so much through her expressive eyes, Shahana is wonderful and Ila Arun is first-rate. A major part of the film is placed on Arunoday Singh's broad shoulders and he stands tall with a natural, likable act. Sushant Singh is perfect, Shreyas Talpade is sincere, Rajpal Yadav is earnest, Boman Irani is just right, Prem Chopra is flawless and Tisca Chopra is fiery. Saurabh Shukla shines in a brief role.
On the whole, Mirch blends the serious issue of gender equality with the comic flavour of the film well, at least in the first half. But it's the post-interval portions that act as a downer and in turn, makes this Mirch not as spicy.
Director: Vinay Shukla
Cast: Shreyas Talpade, Mahie Gill, Shahana Goswami, Konkona Sen Sharma, Raima Sen, Arunoday Singh, Rajpal Yadav