Film Review: Mukti Bhawan

When one has a premonition that death is imminent, there is bound to be consternation. And when the person happens to be a 77-year-old, there could be some amusing moments too.

Septuagenarian Daya (Lalit Behl) wakes up one morning to harry his son Rajiv (Adil Hussain) into accompanying him to Benaras in order to spend his last few days there. Checking into Mukti Bhawan (Salvation Hotel) which overlooks the Ganga, Daya and his son – who insists on staying along for the fortnight, the maximum period permitted by its intrepid manager Mishraji (Anil Rastogi) – strive to make themselves comfortable in the sparse and dingy tenement.

Helmed by 24-year-old Shubhashish Bhutiani, ‘Mukti Bhawan’ as a film serves a dual purpose – to explore a father-son relationship and to showcase some of the Hindu rituals at the time of death. So far as the second objective is concerned, it succeeds – the film already having been exhibited at a few film festivals abroad. Hindu rituals such as a calf being donated to the local temple before embarking upon the ‘final’ journey or the shots of the stockpile of wood intended for cremation are a few of the overt allusions.

Bhutiani ensures that it’s not all funereal – instances of Daya’s quips from his ‘supposed’ deathbed or watching his favourite soap-opera in Salvation Hotel enliven the proceedings.  Also, the well-written escapade of Daya pairing up with longtime resident and widowed Vimla (Navnindra Behl, real-life wife of Lalit Behl) takes away from the grey and dismal genre of the film.

On the technical front, Tajder Junaid’s background score with its serene guitar strings and cinematography by McSweeney and Huwiler, are the plus points of this artsy film destined for film festivals around the globe. Theatre and film actors Palomi Ghosh as Sunita, Rajiv’s daughter and Geetanjali Kulkarni as Lata, his wife, shine in their small roles. But the film belongs to veteran Adil Hussain who underplays his role of an overburdened office employee, a dutiful son and a father whose daughter’s wedding is at hand, to perfection.

Leave a Reply