The year 2003 has witnessed several new directors enter the fray. Coincidentally, the two releases of this week are also directed by first-timers. A few names left an impression, some made a hasty exit.
Editor Rajkumar Hirani, who makes his bow as a director with MUNNABHAI M.B.B.S., handles a complex subject in his debut vehicle. A wacko theme, the flick offers laughter in abundance, has moments that melt your heart and bring a tear in your eye, plus propagates a message – love can overcome all sorrows.
That's precisely why MUNNABHAI M.B.B.S. works!
Munnabhai [Sanjay Dutt] lives with his gang in the bylanes of a dhobi ghat in Mumbai, takes pride in being a 'social worker' [they actually settle 'financial disputes' through dadagiri] and enjoys his booze, babes, brawls…
Munna's father, Hari Prasad Sharma [Sunil Dutt], an upright, moralistic man, believes that his son is actually a doctor running a charity hospital. Every year, when his parents arrive, Munna and his gang bathe, shave, don white coats and stethoscopes and pretend to be diligent doctors.
But the clever charade falls apart. Hari Prasad Sharma runs into an old friend, Dr. Asthana [Boman Irani], who has a daughter called Suman [Gracy Singh]. The two decide that their children, both doctors, would make a perfect match. Munna tries hard to save the situation, but his father discovers the truth. And all hell breaks loose.
Hari Prasad Sharma, now broken by the truth, removes his white spotless pagdi and cries. Munnabhai then takes a decision that would change many lives – he decides to become a doctor…
Loosely inspired by the 1998 flick PATCH ADAMS [starring Robin Williams, directed by Tom Shadyac], MUNNABHAI M.B.B.S. succeeds largely due to a clever screenplay, fantastic performances and most importantly, the strong emotional quotient it has to offer.
Making people laugh is indeed the most arduous task, but MUNNABHAI M.B.B.S. assures smiles and laughter aplenty from scene A to Z. A feel-good fare, the story takes you on a journey that's rarely been depicted on Hindi screen before.
From the writing point of view, MUNNABHAI M.B.B.S. has several highpoints –
. The sequence when Boman Irani exposes Sanjay Dutt in front of his parents, Sunil Dutt and Rohini Hattangadi, is skilfully executed.
. The Jimmy Shergill track [second half] is amongst the best parts of this enterprise.
. The game of carrom in the hospital, when an ailing elderly man picks up courage to play the game, is bound to move one and all.
. The sequences between Sanjay Dutt and Arshad Warsi all through the film are thoroughly entertaining. The camaraderie is simply fantastic.
However, the film offers very Mumbaiya kind of humour. It would be interesting to observe the kind of response it may garner in other parts of the country.
The pace of the film drops slightly towards the second half. The film can do without the romantic track, 'Chhan Chhan' [filmed on Sanjay and Gracy]. Besides this song, the film ought to be trimmed by at least 10 minutes to make the goings-on crisper.
Yet, MUNNABHAI M.B.B.S. is worth watching for the tender moments it has to offer. Moments that you carry home after the show has ended.
Rajkumar Hirani's strength lies in the fact that he has extracted wonderful performances from just about everyone in the film, not just from the principal cast. If he deserves 5 out of 5 for this very reason, he loses a point as an editor. As mentioned above, the film needs to be trimmed by at least 10 minutes – that would only work to the film's advantage.
The screenplay [Rajkumar Hirani, Lajan Joseph and Vidhu Vinod Chopra] could've been tighter. The film has engaging moments in abundance, but the goings-on could've been concise towards the second half.
Dialogues [Abbas Tyrewala] are commendable, especially the ones delivered by Sanjay Dutt and Arshad Warsi. The witty one-liners and the tapori lingo should go down well with the masses. Cinematography [Binod Pradhan] is flawless.
If VAASTAV was a turning point in Sanjay Dutt's fluctuating career, another film that will make people sit up and notice his talent is MUNNABHAI M.B.B.S. Known as an 'action man' all through his career, the actor proves with this performance that he can carry off a light-hearted flick firmly on his shoulders. He is lovable as a bhai, aspiring to be a doctor and equally impactful towards the end when death snatches away one of the patients [Jimmy Shergill]. A knock-out performance undoubtedly!
Sunil Dutt is such a pleasure to watch after a hiatus. The small but significant role remains etched due to this veteran's expert portrayal. In fact, this is the second time the father and son have starred in a film [J.P. Dutta's KSHATRIYA was the first!] and the moments they share on screen look straight out of life, especially the hug [jadoo ki jhappi] in the climax. Gracy Singh is first-rate, delivering a controlled performance. The actress is getting better with every release.
Jimmy Shergill is excellent. The sequence when he learns that he is suffering from a killer disease and his outburst thereafter proves that the actor is capable of so much more, provided he is offered the right kind of roles.
Arshad Warsi is outstanding, complimenting Sanjay Dutt at every step. Though he doesn't have lengthy dialogues to deliver, his sheer presence, his expressions all through and the mannerisms will win him plaudits from one and all.
Boman Irani is fabulous. The film offers him ample scope to display histrionics and he makes the most of it by doing full justice to it. Rohini Hattangadi lends adequate support.
On the whole, MUNNABHAI M.B.B.S. is amongst the best movies churned out from Bollywood in the recent times. At the box-office, the emotions interlaced with light moments should ensure a victorious run for the film. Business in Mumbai territory should prove to be the best.