‘Begum Jaan’ Movie Review


Vishesh Films is celebrating their anniversary with Srijit Mukherji.

Srijit Mukherji remakes his Bengali film Rajkahani into Vidya Balan’s Begum Jaan. The story of a brothel bearing the consequences of the partition of the country and the fight of its inhabitants to maintain their home, country and mainly pride.

A wonderful concept and some brilliant casting, cannot help this poorly written project. Sometimes only good intentions are not enough.

From the word go, in an attempt to recreate the era, Mukherji is working at a snail’s pace. No one expected this to be a fast paced, furious thriller. But at the rate things move on screen, one could have dozed off and woken up again only to realise, nothing much has been missed in the storyline. Also, the repeated references to the strong women in Indian history being played by Balan again and again is a major turn off during the film, since it just makes things worse for the poor plot.

Also, there is no camaraderie shown amongst the women, besides the young Laali whom all jointly mother. Hence you don’t feel as convinced when there is a betrayal or whether they decide to ride into the sunset together.

At 134 minutes, this film is a good 30 minute too long. Wonder what the editing team of Monisha Baldawa and Vivek Mishra thinking?

Some excellent performances undoubtedly here, Vidya, Pitobash, Gauhar, Chunky, Vidyarthi, Rajit, Ila, Ridheema, Sumit, Naseer; all of them have given their best to the poorly written and sometimes oddly picturised scenes; the intentional half cut faces, didn’t create quite the impact it should have. Somehow the only person you will remember is Chunky Pandey in a scene stealing performance as Kabir.

Vivek Mushran and Rajesh Singh are again effective in poorly written characters.

With so much of talent behind this project, the efforts put in by the cast, unfortunately it boils down to judging them on what has been presented on screen, seems rather unjust but sadly cést la vie. Even the entire modern day Delhi reference, is rather shoddy than impactful.

Inspite of some bold dialogues, the performances seem over the top and borderline screechy at times, notwithstanding the loopholes in the script at times, for example why did Vivek Mushran want to break away Pallavi when he was as it is getting back at Begum, irrespective. Why did the two bureaucrats not move the Radcliffe line a few metres to avoid a clash? Why go to such great lengths to vacate the house, when they had more pressing matters at hand, especially dealing with their own guilt and ill feelings towards the other?

A good concept and intent, gone completely down the drain. Sadly.

Rating:  1/5

By: Yusuf Poonawala