The namesake of the film Mukkabaaz, as explained by one of the characters on screen, is a short-tempered person who uses brawn to solve most of his problems and is always ready to pick fights. What the protagonist must accomplish is transition from being a Mukkabaaz to a Mukkebaaz, a boxer in the real sense of the word, channeling his anger in the right direction and accomplishing something important in the process.
One would imagine this is what the movie would be about, as advertised. But surprisingly, for all its talk about passion, it is not. Mukkabaaz is not a sports film. It is difficult say exactly what this movie is about since it talks about a lot of things but doesn’t focus on one single area. Neither is it a sports drama, nor is it romance and nor is it a revenge themed film, even though it has an out and out villain.
The movie does social commentary, talks about casteisim, shows the struggles of being a boxer in India, explores bureaucracy in institutions, post marriage blues (Yes), dealing with bad bosses and also talks about patriotism for some reason. And herein lies the problem. While doing all this it still doesn’t have a central theme to where this would all tie up or to where the audience would be invested in. The movie does not have a core story to tell, it just keeps wavering in random directions and loses the audiences interest easily.
Add to this, Mukkabaaz is 2.5 hrs long and almost every scene feels dragged. The movie is slow without reason and with too much slo-mo shots which are completely unjustified. Also, there is an overuse of music in the movie which just at most instances cannot seem to decide if it’s a background score or a song sequence.
Anurag Kashyap’s usual flair is either missing in this movie or is not done well. Things like Infusing comedy in serious situations or adding music in unexpected scenes or even giving a sense of euphoria is all attempted but doesn’t translate well on screen.
A note on the cast. All the main actors have done an excellent job in the movie. Everyone stays in character throughout and have put considerable efforts on looking authentic to their respective parts. A shout out to new comer Vineet who looks phenomenal in the movie and does a brilliant job in all his scenes. Jimmy Shergill portrays the stereotypical egoistic, power hungry, north-Indian bad guy but he does his job very convincingly. One would only hope there was a better story for all their arduous work.
You may also like: Best of Anurag Kashyap
Mukkabaaz isn’t good when compared to Kashyap’s previous work but compared to the movies coming out of Bollywood it may still hold its own. It seems evident from the movie that Kashyap holds strong opinions on the political scenario of this country and the related wrong doings that in entails which are usually justified on religious grounds by the culprits. He tries to express it through this medium which could have been great but deserved a lot more context than it shows in the film. In doing a multitude of things, he loses the plot of this movie and the result looks like something force fitted. In the end, Kashyap chooses style over substance which unfortunately falls flat and leaves his own fans disappointed.