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Agony revisited
Nithya Ramani

A still from Mumbai Meri Jaan.
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August 22, 2008 10:46 IST

This movie could not have come at a better time. After the recent serial blasts, Mumbai Meri Jaan [Images] comes in to remind us just what devastation an act of terror can do to a city and it's people.


Based on the serial blasts which rocked surburban Mumbai trains on July 11, 2006, the movie explores the impact of this devastating incident through the lives of a TV journalist (Soha Ali Khan [Images]), a patriotic corporate man (R Madhavan), a retiring policeman (Paresh Rawal [Images]), a rookie cop at the dawn of his career (Vijay Maurya), an angry Hindu fanatic (Kay Kay Menon), and a coffee-vendor struggling to make ends meet (Irrfan Khan [Images]).


The film follows the lives of these people as they tackle the aftermath of a fatal incident that brings out the best and sometimes, the worst in them.

Nikhil Agarwal (Madhavan) works in an international firm and is a conscious citizen. He believes in saving the environment and does his bit by asking road-side vendors not to use plastic bags. He believes in non-pollution and so prefers to commute by train.


MadhavanOn the evening of July 11, 2006, while waiting for the train, a friend forces him to accompany him in the second class compartment. A few minutes later the first class compartment explodes.


The aftereffects are devastating. One, it causes Suresh (Menon), an unemployed anti-Muslim to hate the Muslims even more. 

Two, it shatters the calm of seasoned constable Tukaram Patil's (Rawal) life. Due for retirement in a week's time, he uses humour to battle his failures.


Three, it throws a spanner in Sunil Kadam's (Vijay Maurya) plans. Kadam has just begun his career with the department and has a constant feeling of being an insignificant part of the system. Because of the blasts, his honeymoon gets cancelled.


Four, Thomas (Irrfan), a roadside coffee/tea vendor, who roams the streets of Mumbai astride his bicycle at night, is happy with the meagre amount he struggles to earn every week but is hurt by the attitude of the city.


Though the bomb blasts hasn't personally affected him, he realises that the incident has brought distress to others higher up in the social strata. Taking advantage of this situation, he finds a way to strike back at the society which refuses to accept him as a part of it.


And last but not the least, the blasts put television reporter Rupali Joshi's (Soha) strong values on freedom of expression and the importance of the fourth estate, to the test.


Thus, the movie moves away from all the generalised political and academic debates surrounding terrorism as a concept and follows a more documentary approach by depicting the violence of individual trauma generated in the lives of common individuals.


Directed by Nishikant Kamat (of Dombvili Fast fame) and produced by Ronnie Screwala, Mumbai Meri Jaan has some superb camera work. Though the film is more like a documentary, it is sure to kindle the agony in the minds of the victims and their families. Music by Sameer Phaterpekaris very apt and conveys the terror convincingly. 


Paresh, for the first time, grew a moustache just for the role of a police officer on the verge of retirement. To give the look that the director wanted, Paresh Rawal even lost 15 kilos.


Of the cast, Irrfan's performance is the best. Though he has very little dialogue, he still manages to impress the audience. The actual fear comes across and the impact of the blasts is felt in the theatre, which makes you feel as though you were present at the spot. 


Overall, a watchable film. 


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