Mirch movie review

Director:Vinay Shukla
Cast:Konkona Sen Sharma, Raima Sen, Boman Iran, Arunodhay Singh, Sushant Singh, Shahan Goswami

The premise is interesting. We see a struggling writer-director Arunoday Singh and his editor girlfriend (Shahana Goswami) pitching a new script to producer (Sushant Singh). The cynical producer wants something more commercial. `How about a theme around sex, but nothing vulgar,’ he suggests. The writer, swallowing his pride, asks for some time. And voila, it hits him.

He weaves together four tales inspired by old folk tales like the Panchatantra, all revolving around the theme of wives indulging in infidelity. As the writer narrates the tales to the producer one-by-one, we see them enacted on screen.

The first story takes us to medieval times, where a flower-adorned Raima Sen and husband Rajpal Yadav are a blissfully married couple. But suspicion makes the husband spy on his wife, and is surprised at what he discovers.

The second one, the most immersing story, has a young queen (Konkona Sen Sharma) married off to an old king (Prem Chopra). Dissatisfied in the bedroom department, the young queen hatches a cunning plan to seduce a young courtesan. This story is also very special for a lovely cameo by Ila Arun, who sets out to help the young queen.

The third story and fourth stories are set in contemporary times. A young couple (Raima Sen, Shreyas Talpade) are happily married. But when the wife discovers that the husband has been suspecting and spying on her, she decides it’s payback time, full throttle.

The most bizarre and least convincing story is that of a married couple where the husband is way older than the wife (Boman Irani, Konkona Sen Sharma). While he lies about out-of-station business trips, she fakes concern.

Writer-director Vinay Shukla who gave us the National Award-winning Godmother in 1999 starring Shabana Azmi, is on shaky ground here. He claims that he’s representing the female gaze, but the tag line says `catch her red-handed’. So again it cements the stereotype of the sly, manipulative woman who cheats on her partner. Perhaps, even within the comedy format, the stories needed more complexity, especially within the last two stories.

And in a country, where crimes routinely take place against women due to their suspecting partners, this is perhaps too dangerous a film as well. This point is proven by the film itself as the producer listening to the script begins suspecting his wife, though he was the one who cheated on her in the past. While it should be lauded that the film shows women as sexual beings with desires, calling the film, “a celebration of womanhood” is a bit of a stretch.

The stories set in medieval times are interesting and mischievous, but the last two set in present time are unconvincing. Performances are masterful. Konkona Sen Sharma, Prem Chopra and Boman Irani’s performances especially stand out.

So there you have it a reasonably fun film about infidelity that’s neither chauvinist nor feminist, or perhaps both!

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