Friday, September 23, 2011

Mausam (2011)

Mausam is about two lovers set over a period of ten years. Harinder “Harry” Singh (Shahid Kapoor) and Aayat Rasool (Sonam Kapoor) meet as teenagers in Mallukot, Punjab in November 1992. She has run away from the violence in Kashmir. For him, it is love at first sight. They court each other for a while and then, one fine day, he finds her house locked and gone from his life. 7 years later, in April 1999, they meet in Scotland. He’s now an Air Force pilot and she’s training to become a ballerina. They rediscover their love for each other and make promises of marriage. Unfortunately, fate has other plans. As national and global events determine the course of their lives, they fight against all odds to be reunited once again.

Expectations can be a bitch. And Mausam is a perfect example of that. I expected a lot from the film and tried really, really hard to like it. Quite unfortunately though, the film is a mess, and a big one at that. The story of lovers torn apart by circumstances had a lot of potential. A premise like this has delivered some of the greatest romances of all time including Casablanca, Kabhie Kabhi, The English Patient, Veer Zaara and others. Mausam gets quite a few things right. It has a very likable leading pair with good chemistry and some earnest supporting performances. The photography by Binod Pradhan is nothing short of exquisite. He captures not only the beautiful locales of Punjab, Scotland and Switzerland well but also manages to bring an emotional intensity through his camerawork in several key moments. The film features some exceptional music with Pritam playing against type and coming up with a great mix of sufi and folk music. Irshad Kamil’s poetry is emotionally mesmerizing. At a time when lyrics are getting increasingly cheap in the name of “hip, youthful and urban”, his lyrics haunt you with their poignancy and depth.

However, all of the talent in the world cannot make up for a weak story and a bad script. The film squanders all its merits with an extremely weak, uneven and choppy screenplay. There are abrupt shifts in tone, continuity issues and inexplicable disappearances of characters. Although Pankaj Kapur’s heart is in the right place, his writing skills need a lot of work. The story is unconvincing and the separation of the two lovers seems forced in several places, particularly in the post-interval portions. It’s difficult to feel anything for the characters despite all their sighing and crying (and there is a lot of that). With a runtime of 3 hours, the film is excessively long by a good 45 minutes. There just isn’t enough plot to justify the bloated runtime. The linear narrative also makes the story far too predictable. The plot twists can be seen from miles away. The excessive length robs the narrative of any life or joy. Too much time is spent on mundane details and too little on character development. By the end, enduring the film is actually agonizing. The climax, set in Ahmedabad in 2002, is actually tasteless, joyless and bland. All in all, Mausam aims for epic romance, and fails rather epically at it. It is, in my opinion, one of the biggest disappointments this year.

Rating: 2/5

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