Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola – cattleship communism and vitamin ki goli

Posted: January 11, 2013 by moifightclub in bollywood, cinema, film, film review, Movie Recco, movie reviews, reviews
Tags: , , , ,


Vishal Bhardwaj is a disturbed man.

At least that’s what it seems. And that’s a good starting point. Filmmakers and artists should feel disturbed by their environment. Great art always comes out of that disturbance. So while rest of the bollywood seems to be living in Tumbuktoo with no connect to the issues that matters, and want you to remain equally stupid, blind and deaf with their corn-cola-crap combo, Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola is Vishal Bhardwaj’s first reaction to the changing world around us.

At a recent presser, Bhardwaj said that wo jo ugly malls…meri saansein aani band ho jaati hai wahan…uske andar…wahan ke shor se. As i watched the film where Pankaj and Shabana talk about his dreams on a hill top with dark clouds hovering over them, and a surreal sequence involving giant cranes, industries and malls comes up, it was eerie (wish they had avoided those tacky interior shots of the malls though). That’s the core of this whimsical film by Vishal Bhardwaj – development at what cost?


That doesn’t feature in our dictionary. The ones who are born and bought up in city never knew that it existed. We, the kids of small towns who moved to smaller houses in bigger towns, used to hear about it from our previous generation. Now, we are either comfortably numb, or understand the size of 1BHK – space is our only connect with “land”. And in this scenario, it’s quite easy to understand how difficult and daring it is to make a film like Matru Ki Bijli Ka Mandola. Land, farmers, farming, rainfall, pesticides, gobar, anaaz, anaaz ka bhav – they don’t exist in our films anymore. Not that it deserves all the credit just for the dare act.  But, then, the industry and this country doesn’t understand “satire” either. We are still stuck at Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron. Even on the day when the film is out, the makers are selling it as “massy comedy drama”, like they did with the trailer and tried to hide the film. Massy comedy drama? Paincho paincho!

And that’s the tragedy of Vishal Bhardwaj and his films – audience. Maybe the blame lies with him too. Intention is always honest, filmmaking is always top notch, but he wants big budgets. Big budgets means only one thing – big stars. Doesn’t matter if they can act or not. With big stars and big budgets, you need the big box office numbers too. So? Package it as “vitamin ki goli“, or massy comedy drama, as they would like you to believe.

Last time when he made a film without any compromise, he delivered two of the best films of his career which are classics in more than one way – The Blue Umbrella and Maqbool. Since then it’s always been a slippery ground. This balancing act is a tough business. Emir Kusturi-ca’s absurdity is full throttle. Bhardwaj’s absurdity is bollywoodised where every solution lies in hero-heroine ki shaadi. Some of the best cinema across the world never looks for solutions, and trying for a quick fix is unpardonable. Problems/issues – that’s the muse of a true artist. And this is what i found completely indigestible in Matru – how suddenly everything comes together in the end. Maybe they meant it’s “massy comedy drama” by its climax. Aha, the trappings of commerce when the film has an anti-commerce stand. Irony! And watching this film funded by a corporate giant in a multiplex inside a mall. Irony ka baap!

But other than its hurried and hotchpotch climax, the film has so much more to offer and is deliciously wicked. Sit back, relax, and chew it bit by bit like Gulaabo does. This one needs jugaali. (i hope you know what it is) Make sure you watch the film in a theatre which has good audio system. Miss one line and you will miss the joke. But wait, if your idea of being funny is 50 plus actors making faces on the tune of pon pon, this movie is not for you. Call it quirky, whimsical or absurd, i wonder if Mao and moo moo will ever get together in one film. Or you can just buy some species because you like their music. Or a Gulaboo bhains in such a pivotal role. It’s Cattle-ship Communism!

The story is simple – man has a daughter. man has a servant. daughter has a lover with a corrupt mother. It’s a hindi film and so you know the end. In the illustrious filmography of Bhardwaj, this is his first political film. i remember an interview of his where he said script aapko nanga kar deti hai…aap kya sochte ho, wahan sab dikhta hai. And if that’s so, am happy to tell that one of my favourite filmmaker looks smart even when his soch is stark naked. He makes other filmmakers of his generation who are still busy doodling with matters of heart, look like nursery kids. Paincho, ab toh duniya dekho! 

And hand over all, i mean ALL the trophies to Pankaj Kapur. A slur here, a sigh there, a blank stare in this direction – this actor is pure delight on screen. He owns it and how! Forget his Jekyll and Hyde avatar, he is 100 times the Jekyll hidden in one Mr Hyde! The film belongs to him and it’s no wonder that Bhardwaj calls him his most favourite actor on this planet. It’s been ages since an actor made everyone look like lilliput. Even if nothing interests you, just watch the film for him. Actors of his age are put in a bracket called “character actors” in this country and you never know when someone like him can get another terrific role like this one and will do full justice to it. Shabana Azmi is the Politician-who-licks-Lollypop and is a perfect match for Kapur as his footsie partner. And like any other Bhardwaj film, this one also has the entire supporting cast setting up a great ambience and a distinct world where the story unfolds. Any film which has great performances by actors in small roles, or even just for one dialogue – that’s my kind.

Book your tickets now!

– by @CilemaSnob

(PS – Dear VB, why this big dhokha this time?)

  1. lolwa says:

    u r a communist if u liked chu films like mkbkm/chakravyuh/aarakshan

  2. nadi says:

    so true about the big budgets, stars..

  3. Vivek says:

    So glad that PK moved from white horse to pink bhains.
    WIsh someone can someday release a version with Imran’s dialogues dubbed by someone else.

  4. niranjan shah says:

    Dear MFC,

    While there’s no doubt VB is one of the most poetic and gifted directors we have and I’d pretty much shut up & watch anything he puts on screen 1st day 1st show (okay, not 7 khoon maaf), I think its important we hold our heroes to a higher standard.

    To draw an analogy – there’s a reason why SRT gets abused for getting out on 50 and not getting a 100. Because we know he’s capable of more, much more.

    I understand you are part of the film industry and in the business, appearances count – whose film you support on friday and whose film you diss matters. But by being so easily satisfied with MKBKM which is clearly compromised at so many different levels – you are kind of insulting your own hero. Because you’re saying this much is enough – when he is one of the few Indian directors who has a realistic shot at making great films not just crowd pleasing diversions.

    I refuse to accept the argument that this is a great film ‘in the commercial space’. There is no such things, there are good films, there are bad films – films that achieve what they set out to do, and films that fail. Period.

    The budget you choose, the actors you choose to work with are all choices you make as a creative person and its only fairly that you get judged on the basis of all those choices. And all of it adds upto how the public receives your work. If you have one eye on the BO while trying to make a relevant film – that’s your choice. And if your ideology gets diluted in the process, its your fault.

    Choosing a relevant & difficult political subject shows you’re brave. Illuminating it & providing insight – doing justice to it, proves your gift as a story teller and commentator. And in my view VB had failed to do that, instead resorting to broad strokes and plot contrivances which frankly make me question his own political understanding & interest in exploring this subject. I’m not doubting his sympathy for the cause but the depth of his engagement, which I’m afraid doesn’t seem very deep.

    All I can hope is that the next time, VB will only be consumed by wanting to be true to the subject he chooses to make a film on and every decision will be shaped by the need for that honesty. That’s what true artists aspire to. And if you like me, value VB as an artist – that’s what you should be hoping for him too.

    Yours in all sincerity,

    • Vivek says:

      Somewhat agree here. Did look like more of a ‘masturbatory’ project for Vishal. But I had fun watching it.

    • Palash says:

      that’s precisely what many of us feel while we see this film getting unduly rave reviews. praising such mild efforts with all your heart and then later cribbing about mediocrity won’t help us. a director with such an extreme flair for quirkiness ought to do much more than MKBKM. very articulately put mr.shah.

    • Mohit says:

      @niranjan shah: Exactly my thoughts, and very well put!

  5. AA says:

    Doesn’t he produce his own movies? I have always wondered how he keeps the business and still maintains the creativity.

  6. @Rohwit says:

    Must say a film like this and then the discussion that follows has at least given a peek into some of the prized idiots I thought otherwise about. Thank you VB.

  7. Varun Varghese says:

    I read all kinds of reaction yesterday….ranging from maakabhosda to being brave. I was worried that I might find it difficult to enjoy the film but I was so wrong. The film is extremely enjoyable and engaging. Also, I feel sad and let down by the way people have reacted to the film. We make fun of the 100 cr club, give them the Ghantas but the truth is that we deserve that shit only. Somewhere in the film Azmi says that the Government is the representation of its people, so are our films. If we can’t appreciate something as genuine and original as MKBKM, a film that we all should be proud of then mujhe nahi pata hume kya chaiye bencho bencho!

  8. Thoroughly entertaining movie and loved every bit of Pankaj Kapur.
    Regarding it being socially relevant, I think VB just wanted people to talk about the land issue that we are witnessing in this county. He highlighted the problem well, but his solution was very very lame. At the end of the day he expects the farmers to depend on the kindness of the tyrant.

    I loved the movie and was thoroughly entertained and that’s what matters to me. If someone wants to solve the land related issues, please join politics or any other such movements. Job of film maker is to entertain and tell a story and I think MKBKM succeeds in that. It is at least the kind of entertainment that I like.

  9. billu says:

    VB agar disturbed hain to hame kyun disturb kar rahe hain.Vitamin ki goli ke saath sar dard ki bhi goli de do bhai.itna interpretation karne ka zarurat nahi hai kyunki itna director writer ne bhi nahi socha hoga.they just wanted to make an entertaining film in which they failed.Story me dum to door ki baat hai balki koi story hi nahi hai.kusturica banne se film achhi ho jaayegi kya.

    MKBKM ek bahut hi bakwaas aur confused film hai.shuru ka 10 minute aur aakhir ka 10 minute dekh lijiye aapko poori film samajh me aa jayegi.baaki time aap so jaayein to behtar hoga kyunki ye film dekhna aapke sehat ke liye haanikaarak ho sakta hai.
    Zabardasti hansaane ki koshish ki gayi hai jo saaf pata chalta hai isliye mujhe hansi nahi aayi.kuch kya most of the scenes aise hain jinko agar film se nikaal bhi do to ghanta fark padta hai.mao aur left ka funda daalne ki kya zarurat hai bhai .khaali picture ko intelectual banane ke liye.sidhhant(principle) ka koi lena dena nahi hai.Agar simple film bana rahe ho to faaltu ka tez mat bano.jitna demand hai utna hi dikhao.
    Ab main ek ek scene ke baare me nahi likh sakta kyunki meri sulgi hui hai film dekhne ke baad.230+230 rupaye mere barbaad ho gaye sahab par ek baat hai ke ye picture saat khhon maaf se upar hai par baaki VB ki film se bahut bahut neeche.mera mann to kar raha hai ke main director se thoda baat karun shayad wo mera nazariya badal sakein joki mushkil hi nahi namumkin lagta hai mujhe.
    Ab jinhe ye film pasand aayi hai unke baare me main bolna chaahoonga ke unhe ye film dekh kar khud ko intellectual aur doosron ko bhains samajhne me mazaa aa raha hai.for eg take a joke from film which says-“tum Mao se hai,tu left le le”…Sabko samajh me aane waala joke nahi hai ye,kaun Mao ,kaun left bhai par jo so called intellectual hain unhe apne pe proud ho jayega ke waah i got this joke and they decide ke film badhiya the way this was the only good joke in the movie.
    Acting ka jahaan tak sawaal hai to Pankaj kapoor has done better acting in many films so u cant tell ke bhai hila diya hai.Imran ke daadhi ki wajah se uska expression chhup jaata hai aur waise bhi kuch zyada express karne ke liye tha bhi nahi.Shabana is good.Anushka ki sui ek hi standard pe atki hui hai.She needs a good “commercial” director.Arya has done a decent job.
    Aur kuch yaad nahi aa raha but I m sure ke iss film ki aur khinchaai ho sakti hai.So at last its a big No.

  10. billu says:

    Abe Ramen:
    Mao,left pata hota hi hai..par mao left ka need kya hai picture me be..kabhi pee ke kuaan kheench rahe hain,kabhi hawai jahaaz gira de rahe hain khet me,kabhi gulaabi bhains dikha rahe hain,kabhi mandola’s prblm with daaru dikha rahe hain,kabhi bijlee aur matru ka dhinchik dhinchik,kabhi emotional hoke mandola beti ka kasam kha raha hai,kabhi shakti bhog aata ke factory me genhu bech rahe hain,in sab ka mao left se kaa lena dena…aur dukhi honge nahi..physical emotional pain jhel sakte hain par financial pain bhaari padta hai humko..

    • Ramen says:

      “Need” ka kya matlab hain be?… director jo marji dikhayega… waise mujhe bhi bohut jyada achchi nehi lagi… lekin mera problem is typical middle class mentality se hain… Mao ka naame le liya to kya hua?… Maowadi nehi hain kya desh main? har joke Sardar aur Lalu ke upar hi hoga kya ?

      • he is going to be the greatest film maker india has seen

        • billu says:

          he has the potential,no doubt…par aur bhi directors hain.Anurag kashyap to sabse pahle coz i love him and his balancing the commercial aspect in GOW was mind blowing..phir dibakar also has a different sense but he isnt that commercial by now,TIgmanshu 50/50…fultoo comercial me I think milan luthria(though i didnt like TDP) but he is going to stay,Maneesh Sharma aur koi yaad nahi aa raha iss time.

      • billu says:

        waah ab jo marzi aayega dikhayega director..phir to kuch bolne ko raha hi nahi…dikhao bhai dikhao…tum dikhao hum like karte hain..mao ka naam se koi prblm nahi hai par film ki requirement nahi hai ye..aise to phir utpatang jo mann kare bhar do movie me…film wud hav been the same without this left-mao shit.jab mao se tung ka naam aaya to hi main samajh gaya ke ye imran khan hai aur kaun ho sakta tha.phir plain se koode to pamphlet udaane lage..pocket me leke ghoom rahe the kya and that also ke plane waakla scene is attached to kuan waala scene which was attacched to haweli wala scene.pamphlete uan ka mann kiya irector ka to udwa diya.udao bhai udao…phir shakti bhog waalon se baat ho gayi to director ne baarish kara diya tension badhane ke liye.nature ka bhi kaafi negative role hai film.director ki marzi..dekho main bata raha hun shuru ke 10 mint aur aakhir ke 10 mint me hi jo kahani hai so hai baaki sab kheencha gaya hai joki apne aap me boriyat ki ek misaal hai..mddle class mentality me koi buraai nahi hai.n wats typical middle class mentality.dont say that yaar doesnt have any sab sirf high class chochle hain ke “oh u r so down market”,”oh so middle class”,”oh so LS” etc…these r just words with no meaning..Film first of all should entertaining and then anything else with it…MKBKM fails in music,story.aur pankaj bhai ke dialogues ke saath subtitle hona hi chahiye tha..Aisa koi dimaag lagane waali film nahi thi bhai was just meant to be entertaining in which the director happens,so deal with it.

        • vikash says:

          Bhai…woh “Mao Tse Tung” hai “mao se tung” nahin 😀

          Aur jab VB se itne dukhi ho tum toh ek kaam karna zara yeh tumhaare balwaan khan se mere kuch paise dilwa dena…bahut lutta hai tumhaare bhaijaan ne 😛

          • billu says:

            thats the best u can come with…mao tse tung…oh I m so did u decide ke I m a fan of Salman Khan.kya yaar tum bhi…whom r u fan of?Zabukta zubiri or Sanyima delohder…khair chhodo..waise balwaan khan knows his audience n the demand so he makes that kinda film..BTW VB is a director as you know coz u know its not mao se tung and Salman is an actor,so no comparison.but ya you can ask me to get ur money back from Sajid Khan coz that wud be a better comparison.

  11. Kumar Gautam says:

    very well written even though you are a great well-wisher of VB. Hope he reads it.

  12. vasanbala says:

    What was most relevant for me was not the Che, Mao, Kusturica references but the fact that a guy who operates as Mao goes to a Shakti Bhog Atta to crack a deal to save his land. A very smart point made on the fact that A little bit of Capitalism is needed to save the larger scheme. And on that MKBKM hits the nail for me. Makes a point and respects the amalgamation of ideologies which was at one point thought to be Oil and Water.

    Sadly all the referencing and craft is the only thing thats been discussed and highlighted. It so shows that Mao and Che are only there to sell T-Shits and hang on the walls. They have become pop commodities and fun and cool cinematic references points.

    I thought Pop philosophy sells but sadly It went unnoticed by the masses and the cult pride themselves on popping it open and totally miss the point even there.

    All satire comes out of great anger and helplessness. If crying pleas are not heard then laugh with me on my misery, maybe someday someone will get it.

    And here the point of discussion is Red, there is neither anger nor helplessness only laughs. From people who want to dismiss it and from people who think IDIOTS did not get it.

    Few filmmaker are probably left with that anger and I want to know more from them, I have never ever even for a second had a Communist lifestyle. I buy the Che t-shirt and watch the Multi Million Dollar film made on him. I am chut who needs to know to be educated and shown a perspective, I want to know from them, their songs, their anger, their voice and their choices. I love Vishal Bharadwaj too much to see just some odd jokes and references being picked where a whole lot of Blood spilled goes unnoticed.

    • abhishek says:

      I see suddenly Mao has become cool again? A chut who murdered millions of men never leaves the imagination of intellectuals. Idiot even ordered a holocaust of billions of poor sparrows.

  13. Rishi says:

    cant really understand the author’s fascination with the movie. This was at best half baked movie which neither tasted of dough or cake. The independence has been taken at convenience. During the second half pankaj kapur was not at all bothered by what Imran was doing. why keep Mao as a secret when yu had to reveal it half way. Why use media to cover UFO (a tamasha) but not to cover bigger tamasha( shadi of misnister’s son) . where were other women in movie ? or has the sex ratio been so bad in haryana (800 plus is still a number) ? Was this even a comedy ? what was this??? this was not even an imagery. not even a street play. hugely disappointed by Bharadwaj and equally baffled by review. Sadly none other platform gives better reviews and i guess this platform is becoming a taran adarsh for directors who are “different”.

  14. RamanaK says:

    I am someone who loved Welcome to Sajjanpur and thought that it wonderfully amalgamated a million random threads that Benegal wanted to connect. Ofc, a lot of people (who otherwise have well-founded and articulated opinions, and not talking of the Taran Adarsh variety) found that to be too disconnected and meandering. But, I actually level that same accusation on MKBKM more than on Sajjanpur.

    Also, @MFC, you sorta make it sound like how the mainstream chuth critics made Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna sound like oh-Karan-Johar-has-come-of-age with this whole oh-VB-went-political while others are still on juvenile love stories angle. Ofc, I am glad it got made and everything, but it is the same SRT’s 50 v/s SRT’s century point raised above. I really liked this film for its eccentricities, satire, one-liners, themes etc. but felt that it did lack that so-called ‘punch’ to really make an impact on me about the points it wanted to make.

    When compared with other films from VB’s filmography, I would really be hard-pressed to not place it somewhere rather low (and yes, I loved 7 Khoon Maaf).

  15. Nidhi says:

    I’ve seem my fair share of mad films and read more than my fair share of mad books in my life. The kind that have something to say. Where madness not only entertains you but also serves as a cushion for the horror that the author/filmmaker REALLY wants to talk about. Catch-22 comes to mind. Kusturica too (an obvious influence for this film).

    The usual structure of these works is basically the same – for the most part they are the blackest of black comedies. They allow us to laugh at the plight of the people in the story while making us squirm at the same time. This becomes steadily worse and builds up to a point where the author(or filmmaker) leaves any pretense of humour aside and goes for the gut punch. The last chapter of Catch-22 is one of the most tragic, disillusioned last chapters you’ll ever read. Underground has a similarly nihilistic ending.

    My problem with Matru.. is this. It keeps shifting between absurd black comedy, template Bollywood romance/melodrama, social drama and often-embarrassing camp with no regard for overall tone. It feels like different films have been literally sewn together to please different groups of people. While you can explain it away saying it wouldn’t have been commercially feasible otherwise, it doesn’t make the film any more cohesive. This is the very complaint that I have against traditional masala films with their separate romance, comedy and action ‘tracks’.

    You can’t go from pink buffalo silliness to sad b/g music while the farmers lose their crop to more pink buffalo silliness and a happy ending for the couple AND the farmers. Ok, maybe you can, but this definitely wasn’t it.

    That said, I’d rather watch this film than, say, Vicky Donor, Barfi, English Vinglish, not to mention all the other crap Bollywood regularly vomits into a theatre near you.

  16. vml says:

    Can we please stop this blind reverence of the supposed “new-age” directors just because they manage to make a film that is not the usual run-of-the-mill 100 crore shit! We lost VB after Omkara, Kashyap post- Dev D and Dibakar after Shanghai. It’s one thing to celebrate the much needed new shift in hindi cinema, but accept everything by these directors as excellent/different cinema is akin to creating a dangerous myth. Shanghai did not have any grasp of what the development debate in India is. It’s another straight-from-the-70/80’s movie where everything is black and white. A corrupt Chief Minister, an activist professor and his follower student, a caught-in-between bureaucrat who chooses to bring down the CM etc. Is this how we are supposed to understand politics and the complex issue of development in our country? Likewise whatever Kashpyap makes is taken as a template for how movies should be made. Except for Udaan, all his movies post Dev D are mediocre at best. Yes, that includes GoW I and II. The only noteworthy aspect in GoW II is Siddiqui. And now we have VB and MKBM. This could have been an excellent satire, but even VB cannot resist the temptation of weaving in an absolutely unnecessary love story, which is what made Maqbool (Tabu-Irfan love story) stop short of being a masterpiece. Some of the lines of MKBM is genius stuff – consider “sapno ka lokpal” etc. Taken as a whole, the movie is below average and it’s time we start talking about our “new age” directors in a more open manner. Let’s not put them on a pedestal – it’s not good for them or us. A bad movie is a bad movie. Period. Let’s not, as rightly said by someone above, become a taran adarsh for directors who are “different.”

  17. I just watched the movie, and yes despite being a big VB fan, resisted till I was ready to take it on. And oh, man I was surprised, well I guess someone mentioned it was his masturbatory project of sorts, yes I think, and there is where the man’s real fetishes and Eros comes to play. The absurdity of the script is misleading, a love story, hallucinations….But the satirical take is praise worthy…If Dibakar made LSD which was disturbing and AK showed the plight of smokers in No Smoking…Then surely enough VB shows the absurdity of political correctness or ideology or lack of it in us Indians, I guess every Commie Bastards and Bourgeoisie Bitches had surely some great laughs at the jokes which many PoPo fans were clueless about…I don’t know why in the near future if VB writes his own script (I mean not adapted from any literature written before) ,expect an uncanny resemblance to Woody Allen!
    P.S. The initial No Smoking warning was funny, if you know what I mean!!

  18. Akash says:

    I have just one question.

    If this film was made by Sajid Khan, in the exact same way as it is now, would you have lavished similar praises to it?

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