After films Tum Bin 2 and Gulaab Gang, Anubhav Sinha’s latest release is Mulk which is a court room drama. Director Anubhav Sinha sets out to lay bare the bias that often precedes people’s perception of the Muslim community in our country.
Film Mulk revolves around Murad Ali Mohammad (Rishi Kapoor), a retired lawyer who stays with his wife and his younger brother Bilal (Manoj Pahwa) and his family and dotes on his daughter-in-law Aarti Mohammad (Taapsee Pannu). When Bilal’s son Shahid (Prateik Babbar) ends up perpetrating a bomb blast after being radicalised, Anti-Terrorism Squad officer Danish Javed (Rajat Kapoor) shoots him down in an encounter and drags his father Bilal to jail on charges of conspiracy. Now, it is up to Murad and Aarti to team up and save Bilal and the reputation of their family. But because they are Muslims and have been branded ‘jihadis’, the stakes are much, much higher. The family’s friends from other faiths also turn foes, and Murad Ali has no other option but to defend his brother and prove that they are as loyal and as patriotic as anybody else in the country.
Rishi Kapoor as the patriarch performs his role with restraint and nuance. Rishi Kapoor’s act is restrained and remarkable as Murad Ali while Taapsee is unquestionably striking as Aarti, who can be soft-spoken and gentle but also feisty as and when the situation demands it. Taapsee Pannu as the daughter-in-law shines in the courtroom scenes. Manoj Pahwa has given a really unforgettable performance as Bilal and his helplessness will make your heart go out to him. Prateik Babbar is OK. Suave Rajat playing a tough-as-nails cop. Ashutosh Rana as the Public Prosecutor is really good as per his stature while Kumud Mishra as the wry judge is a delight to watch.
Film Mulk throws light on how people fall prey to political agendas that aim to divide the country on the basis of ‘us’ vs ‘them’. The first half is slow-paced but what really works for the movie is the dramatic courtroom scenes, which will make you think about the Islamophobia that exists around us. It is about ‘How to be a good human’: yes, it is simplistic, and seems to gloss over many prevailing problems - there is no talk of ‘gau matas’ and lynchings, but it courageously wades into territory angels have long abandoned.
Mulk does not bend over backwards in an effort to appease any particular community, but rather encourages both sides to engage in a rational dialogue. The climax of the movie, wherein Taapsee’s character takes up the reins of the defence and delivers a powerfully moving speech, is certainly one of the highlights of the movie. Anubhav Sinha’s writing is powerful to convey message. DOP Ewan Mulligan deserves admirations for making the film look genuine and realistic.
Overall, film Mulk is worthy to watch once for stellar performances of star cast and realistic narrative.