Let’s start this review with a question that is very obviously asked in the movie directly and indirectly a several times. What is a nation after all?
What makes a nation?
Growing up in a state amidst the disputed lands of the Northeast, I have often asked myself and those around me about the constant conflicts existing around us and the nation as a whole. The conflicts vary from state to state, from a community to community, from language to language, and so on and so forth; but conflict it is. The aspect of growing up as a non-tribal in a tribal land and the natural notion of the ‘self’ and the ‘other’ had been ingrained in us from a very young age.
The movie Mulk, as a courtroom drama address this very question of the idea of the ‘self’ and the ‘other’ through the eternal dispute between the Hindu and the Muslim, post-partition in this country. After the episode of a terrorist attack in a bus in the city of Banaras, some uncomfortable questions about communal hatred and bigotry is brought in the forefront by the director Anubhav Sinha.
I will call this movie an important one, as it represents that the nation is one and belongs to everyone. The shame, anger, and angst that the director awakens in the audience are almost unnerving. Ashuthosh Rana brilliantly plays the role of the public prosecutor post the terrorist attack. His dialogues and the constant demeaning attitude that he adheres towards the Muslim community, makes it very easy to dislike him. He voices the ideology of the majority of the nation or the world that terrorism indeed is ‘just’ Islamic terrorism. We often ignore the terrorism inculcated by the majority groups on the minorities, terrorism in the name of caste or region, which are political or social in nature. We often perhaps forget that terrorism is not religious in nature.
The majority of the scenes set in the courtroom helps in bringing the difference of opinion and the unsettling questions almost in a harsh manner which is very much in stark difference to another Hindu-Muslim conflict based, 2012 movie, Shahid directed by Hansal Mehta. Both the movies raise the perspective of how an incident brings down an entire community to the level of being tortured almost inhumanly, how friends become enemies in a split-second, and how the constant lack of faith almost suddenly surfaces hatefully. The movie powerfully addresses the troublesome need to prove one’s love for the country, which if not in sync with the common notion of the nation, might push one to be anti-national any moment.
Taapsee Pannu the Hindu daughter-in-law of Rishi Kapoor brings the melodrama surrounding the script in authoritatively. Rishi Kapoor with extreme nuance depicts the love that he holds for his Mulk, his nation.
As an audience, I did miss the fact of some specifics that could have been shown more visually. When it came to the investigations, analysis, and outcomes held by the defendant Aarti (Taapsee Pannu) as well as the police forces involved, I secretly wished that the actions and the role of Prateik Babbar as Shahid the accused terrorist were a little more elaborate in nature. The detailing of the brainwashing of young Muslim boy of a simple household would have added to his characterization. More details regarding the evidence like CCTV camera footages or the missing documents of SIM cards would have added an extra edge to the script.
All in all, the drama of the movie is captivating and with a good intention which acts as a wake-up call to the audience of this nation.
If you are someone, who like me, often ask yourself that ‘Why do we still differentiate people?’ ‘Is there or could there be any solution to it?’, you should definitely watch this nail-biting melodrama.
Watch the movie trailer:
Until then! Peace!