Cast: Vineet Kumar Singh, Zoya Hussain, Jimmy Sheirgill, Ravi Kishan
Director: Anurag Kashyap
Producers: Aanand L. Rai, Anurag Kashyap, Vikramaditya Motwane, Madhu Mantena
Writers: Anurag Kashyap, Vineet Kumar Singh, Mukti Singh Srinet, K.D Satyam, Ranjan Chandel, Prasoon Mishra
What's Yay: Performances, Story
What's Nay: Unbaked climax which comes across a little off track
Popcorn Refill: Strictly Interval
Iconic Moment: Shravan Kumar Singh (Vineet Kumar Singh)'s confrontation scenes with his father.
Mukkabaaz begins with Shravan Kumar Singh (Vineet Kumar Singh) taunting his fellow boxing aspirant for using sport as a device to land a stable government job and exclaiming, "It's because of people like you that Uttar Pradesh never produces any Olympians" before declaring his lofty ambition of becoming Bareilly's Mike Tyson.
Minutes later, Shravan lands his 'mukka' on the ego of Bhagwan Das Mishra (Jimmy Sheirgill), his upper caste coach who is ruthless and also has a corrupt and political influence on the boxing association. Blows are exchanged and amidst all the commotion, Shravan is distracted by the vision of a girl who boldly stares back at him. She's none other Mishra's niece Sunaina (Zoya Hussain) who cannot speak. While 'Mushkil Hai Apna Meil Priye' plays in the background, our man has already lost his heart to the damsel.
Soon, feelings are reciprocated but the path for the lovers isn't going to be minus the hurdles with Das trying every trick from his book to crush Shravan's dreams and aspirations. The latter has no other choice but to learn and play 'zindagi ka paintra'!
Anurag Kashyap who is synonymous with dark, gritty films has placed his latest outing Mukkabaaz in a lighter space with all the trappings of a mainstream cinema. He shows you a UP where aspirations die a slow death at the hands of bureaucracy, casteism, cynism and regional politics.
Mukkabaaz may be the story of an underdog- a steel-willed boxer in an 'Indian sports film'. But beneath, it has a love story as its core. The major part of the film keeps you glued to the screen- making you laugh, cry and most importantly think! Unfortunately, it's after the first three quarters that Anurag loses his grip over the directorial reins. Melodrama seeps in and in order to make the climax 'uncliched', he whips up a half-baked ending that fails to justify the protagonist's final call of action.
Vineet Kumar Singh slithers into the character of Shravan Kumar Singh like his own skin and delivers a top-notch performance that speaks volumes.
Debutante Zoya Hussain doesn't have any dialogues in the film. But, it's her twinkling eyes that do all the talking and breathes in life into her role. Her character in the film cannot speak but has a firm and distinct voice that doesn't flinch even when adversity strikes in! The newbie definitely is some fresh talent whom we just can't wait to watch in more films.
Jimmy Sheirgill proves yet again why he is considered to be one of the finest talents that we in our country. Even when the script falters and makes him a cardboard villain in few scenes, the man continues with his marvellous act. Give him a meater role and he sinks his teeth deep!
Ravi Kishan too, is effective in his role.
The visuals play an important role in Mukkabaaz and Shanker Raman captures them in his lens efficaciously. At a run-time about 135 minutes, the film gets a tad stretched in few portions especially post interval, But, Aarti Bajaj and Ankit Bidyadhar's editing works smoothly in the rest.
The songs of Mukkabaaz are the soul of the film and arrive with a purpose. Most of the lines are a satirical take and intriguingly oven-fresh! 'Paintra', 'Mushkil Hai Apna Meil Priye' and 'Bahut Dukhaa Mann' are hands down, our picks from the soundtrack.
In a country where sportsmen (barring cricket) struggle for respect, Mukkabaaz holds a mirror to the grim reality and talks about love blooming amidst hatred. When life gets tough, put on your boxing gloves. At the same time, it also tells you how sometimes the best way to throw a punch is to take a step back. The film 'floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee'.
This Anurag Kashyap falls short of being a masterpiece but definitely quenches your thirst for good cinema!