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Siraj Syed


Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for FilmFestivals.com and a member of FIPRESCI, the International Federation of Film Critics. He is a Film Festival Correspondent since 1976, Film-critic since 1969 and a Feature-writer since 1970. 

 

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Mitron, Review: Food-truck’s mixed menu, part tasty, part insipid

Mitron, Review: Food-truck’s mixed menu, part tasty, part insipid

Meaning ‘friends’, mitron is among the most favourite opening words when the current prime minister of India addresses an audience. Before becoming the PM, he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat and his mother tongue is Gujarati. Mitron is set in Ahmedabad, the main city in Gujarat, and among its lead players are a gang of three friends. All its characters are Gujaratis, some of who speak the language occasionally. That is where the politics and demographics end. There is no real justification behind locating the story in Gujarat.

The film is an unlikely love story, with a food-truck at its core, and serves some tasty dishes. Problems is, all the dishes on its menu are not tasty, and the proceedings are often like the slow charcoal cooking with which some dishes need to be prepared. However, if you like to wait rather long for a dash of seasoned and marinated stuff, you are in the right theatre. Mitron relies heavily on co-incidence, has some funny moments and is clean and wholesome as a whistle. But in the end, the plot is too thin to involve you totally, and you might go back half-satisfied.

Adapted from a Telugu film of 2016, Pelli Choopulu (Matchmaking), it is a love story masquerading as a romantic comedy, set in the Gujarati milieu, of a couple as different as chalk and cheese. Jai, born and brought up with middle class values and upbringing, follows an ‘unrestrained' and ‘take it easy' approach to life. He does not want to go behind the herd mentality and aims at becoming a chef, although he is a qualified automobile engineer, who has been failing in one subject at his graduation exams for three consecutive attempts. Seeing his free and easy approach, and the time he whiles away with his two friends Raunak and Deepu, his father decides to bring stability in his life, and what better way to stabilise an unstable man in his mid-twenties than to get him married. But destiny has something else in store. A marriageable girl is located, and the party heads for their house, to meet and settle the bond. But they accidentally land up at the house of Avni, an ambitious, MBA graduate and head-strong girl, who wants to pursue her studies in Australia.

When Jai emerges from the wash-room, the door in the bedroom gets locked, and it is not possible to open it for quite some time. In this interval together, Jai and Avni share each other’s life-stories, while tea and snacks are hoisted for them from the ground floor kitchen. Jai has been sacked from a call-centre job for yelling at his cheating girl-friend on the phone while on duty and Avni’s boy-friend Vikram has disappeared after promising to return from Delhi to solemnise their relationship. Both sympathise with each other and find at least one thing in common: both do not like their samosas with tomato ketchup, and prefer to eat them bare! Soon, the door is broken open and the mistake discovered. The boy’s family apologises and heads for the next lane, which was their right destination in the first place. Nobody is aware that destiny has already played its cards, and that Jai and Avni will meet again, soon. And who, or rather what will bring them together? It will be a ....food-truck!

Tarun Bhascker Dhassyam’s script and direction won him the National Awards in both categories for the Telugu language. There is no such hope in Mitron, a true to the original recreation, though the Sharib Hashmi Hindi/Gujarati adaptation is mildly impressive, albeit like a sandwich with thin slice of cheese between the two slices of bread. Stretch the subject a bit and you will find yourself in When Harry Met Sally territory. Can a boy and a girl really be just friends, with no sexual undertones? I’ll leave you to hazard a filmy guess, not a real-life observation. There are some interesting contradictions and compromises. A tit for tat scene has Avni asking Jai to pick-up a pen she has dropped, as revenge for the time when he left after throwing a bunch of keys on the ground. Avni warns him to be punctual, but Jai oversleeps and misses the 10 am deadline by two hours, but he moves heaven and earth to get to the location as soon as possible. And an absolute clincher is the hug. The first time, it is he who hugs her, in private. The second time, she does it in front of a family. Both times it is as sublime as can be, and as close as the couple ever gets. How’s that for being clean and wholesome? Strictly U certificate, honestly earned.                                   

Nitin Kakkar directed the critically praised Filmistaan in 2012. Six years later, he is likely to taste success again, but just a lick or two. He has at hand a motley cast. The nitwit, loser is played by Jackky Bhagnani (Kal Kissne Dekha, F.A.L.T.U, Welcome to Karachi) who seems to be drowsy and lazy, which might be taken as bad acting, but is a piece of good casting, if that is his persona. He’s earned a lot of flak for his earlier films, but I will let him get away with a passable tag here. Kritika Kamra gets her first lead role and comes across better than Jackky. Role-wise too, she is the smart one, and yet emotionally vulnerable, which attributes she delivers serviceably.

As his side-kicks, Jackky has Pratik Gandhi (Raunak) and Shivam Parekh (Deepu). Pratik gets to steal two scenes for himself, mainly due to the dialogue. Neeraj Sood has a meaty role as Jai’s father, is in good form, and has some fine lines too. Prateik Babbar, sadly, has a half-crudely conceived, hearted part written for him, and all his grainy, mouth shut vocals cannot lift it above the run-of-the-mill track he is part of. Mohan Kapur as the villainous father-in-law-would-be of Jai does what he does best: flaunt style and villainy, with a clipped accent. He also keeps addressing Jai as Vijay, which is again in keeping with the character.

Mitron’s sound-track is dotted with seven songs, one in two versions, and includes a Tanishk Bagchi reworking of the Ghulam Mohammed-Lata Mangeshkar classic ‘Chalte chalte’ from Pakeezah, rendered this time by Atif Aslam. Narrative-wise, it fits, but class-wise, it sticks out like a sore thumb. Pakeezah was a class act, Mitron is strictly middle-class.

Many a times you get the feeling that the situations and the actors deserve sympathy and empathy, but for a variety of reasons, as listed above, you fail to resonate with the happenings. A more concise screenplay, more mature direction and high voltage performances could have lifted the film some notches higher. But blame is on destiny, or astrology (industrialist Kapur says twice that he believes in astrology, for it is a science).

In what could be a first, Mitron has some six or seven minutes of end credit titles that roll to three or four successive item songs on the left, including Yo Yo Honey Singh’s ‘This party is over now’. I was the only person in the auditorium, not taking Singh’s ‘announcement’ seriously.

Rating: ** ½

Trailer: https://youtu.be/CfVxhURVIpg

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About Siraj Syed

Syed Siraj
(Siraj Associates)

Siraj Syed is a film-critic since 1970 and a Former President of the Freelance Film Journalists' Combine of India.

He is the India Correspondent of FilmFestivals.com and a member of FIPRESCI, the international Federation of Film Critics, Munich, Germany

Siraj Syed has contributed over 1,015 articles on cinema, international film festivals, conventions, exhibitions, etc., most recently, at IFFI (Goa), MIFF (Mumbai), MFF/MAMI (Mumbai) and CommunicAsia (Singapore). He often edits film festival daily bulletins.

He is also an actor and a dubbing artiste. Further, he has been teaching media, acting and dubbing at over 30 institutes in India and Singapore, since 1984.


Bandra West, Mumbai

India



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