Vidya Balan starrer Begum Jaan, written and directed by National award-winning filmmaker Srijit Mukherji has been a much-awaited film. Produced by Mahesh Bhatt’s Vishesh Films, the movie is a story of survival set against the backdrop of the India-Pakistan partition and its impact on a brothel. The wait is coming to an end, as the film is all set to hit the theatres this Friday. Our in-house film critic Sreeju Sudhakaran is watching the movie at a press show right now and he has sent the first impression of Begum Jaan.
Sreeju says, “Begum Jaan, which is an adaptation of acclaimed 2014 Bengali movie, Rajkahini shows us another story of the repercussions of partition, when India and Pakistan drew borders. Srijit Mukherji is making his directorial debut in Hindi films with this one, while Vidya Balan plays the lead protagonist.
Much to my surprise, the film begins in 2016, in a scene that becomes uncomfortable by the minute, before it moves 70 years back to 1947 when a British diplomat called Radcliffe drew a line that divided two countries, and along with millions of people, a brothel run by Begum Jaan also gets victimised. In the first half, we are introduced to the inhabitants of this haweli, the prostitutes, some of whom have been victims of gang rape.
Begum Jaan is the mother-like figure for them, who oscillates being a kindred spirit to a stern hand when the situation demands. Some of them have their own love stories and infatuations, but nothing matters within the four walls of that kotha. Until that fateful day when the administrators from both the countries land up in their courtyard with an eviction notice.
Though it has its moments, Begum Jaan moves in a languid pace in the first half trying to set up the characters and the camaraderie of Begum and her girls. While Prem Mein Tohre song works, a couple of scenes irritate thanks to certain loud acting from a couple of characters. Backstories of some secondary characters, like the two administrators, could have been avoided. The film is bold, oh yeah, perhaps too bold for a mainstream Bollywood movie. Among the ensemble, Vidya Balan towers among the rest with her strong performance, though her character has rough edges. The movie peaks when it discussed the effects of partition, which is mostly confined to a very few scenes in the first half. Thankfully, the interval reaches the point where it promises to focus more on partition drama. And also give us glimpses of Chunkey Pandey and Naseeruddin Shah’s characters.”
Come back for the full movie review of Begum Jaan.