Directed By: Anurag Kashyap
Produced By: Aanand L. Rai, Vikramaditya Motwane, Madhu Mantena, Anurag Kashyap
Cast: Vineet Kumar Singh, Zoya Hussain, Ravi Kishan, Jimmy Sheirgill
Duration: 2 Hours 25 Minutes
Bollywood Bubble Rating: 3.5/5

Mushkil Hai Apna Mel Priye

Yeh Pyar Nahi Hai Khel Priye…

Hence, in Anurag Kashyap’s latest serving ‘Mukkabaaz’, a fixated boxer’s hunger of winning becomes as instrumental as an unwavering lover’s quench for his lady. Through a course of two and a half hours, the Mukkas are of dissimilar power; nevertheless, all relevant.

As we are introduced to Shravan Kumar Singh (Vineet Kumar Singh) and Sunaina Mishra (Zoya Hussain), we immediately know theirs is a bumpy romantic ride. Shravan, a self-acknowledged failure at academics, has been trying his luck as a boxer for years now. Despite being the best from his native land Bareilly, he never qualifies for the championships. Courtesy: local don Bhagwan Das Mishra (Jimmy Sheirgill) who regulates the local sports scenario. Sunaina, a pretty but by-birth mute girl, is incidentally Bhagwan Das’ niece. Fate smirks, so do we.

Amidst a time when progression takes a back seat when filmmakers sketch their female protagonists, Sunaina is a refreshing entrant. So what she can’t speak? She is vocally expressive about her desires, her approval, her reluctance, and of course, her love. And when humiliated, she straightaway throws a punch. I told you, all the Mukkas here were relevant.

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Two of Shravan’s struggle soon merge as he should desperately win the district championship before he gets a job in railways through sports quota and marries Sunaina. There begins the battle. Key points: A slice of small-town India, oppression in the name of caste, misapplication of funds and political power… and so on.

If I had to pick one word to sum up what ‘Mukkabaaz’ is about, I’d choose ‘effort’. Hence, after one point, it became beyond just another sports drama to me. Here’s a lover who keeps making efforts to meet his promises. Here’s a sportsman who believes the show must go on. Here’s a woman who’s ceased of speech, but is being the bravest that she can be. And because it someone as maverick as Anurag Kashyap, the film becomes a string of short stories. Each of them, as moving as it can get.

It is also a fair dose of who and what to blame, the next time we discuss ‘poor state of sports in India’. Albeit, nobody is preaching it the old, usual way. Also, I like how ‘system’ is a muted character in this film. There’s a little of our evil ‘system’ behind putting Shravan and Sunaina’s love story at stake. There’s a little bit of system behind a deserving sportsman not getting his due. And in this ‘system’ exists a coach who puts his life at stake as he uplifts his student. And exists a guilty local goon who is secretly running a free gym for boxers, for over a decade. This massively faulty system sometimes glitters in sunbeam as a few, very few of us, try to set things right.

Kashyap’s works are beyond an amalgamation of script and performance. The visuals breathe and the music escalates the story. ‘Mukkabaaz’ is no exception. Shankar Ramen adds  his own storytelling through every frame. But the two people who add life to the story are Vineet and Zoya. Zoya is a true discovery while Vineet will definitely grab more and meaty stuff now onward.

And Jimmy Sheirgill! For years, this man has played men who sacrificed their love, and needless to say, was underutilised. Isko Ladki Kabhi Nahi Milti, we joked. So glad he finally does films that do justice to his ability! Next, a big shoutout to Ravi Kishan for being the subdued and yet daring coach that he was.

And the final Mukka? The most crucial one, done well and un-cliched.

Ditch your Lonavala plan and watch ‘Mukkabaaz’ this weekend!

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