Mithya

Source: PassionForCinema

1. Mithya – Myth Buster? If only Half-Way

In one of his introductions to the film, Rajat Kapoor discussed his inspiration behind Mithya: his film was a take on the mythological story on how Vishnu lets Narad muni change his identity into a common householder and the latter starts believing in it. The experience was to teach him (and us) the difference between illusion and reality.

In Mithya, an out of work actor VK (Ranvir Shorey) is offered to play the role of a real life Mumbai gangster with a promise of one crore rupees as remuneration. The proposition coming from mobsters, VK can’t refuse the offer. Their plan is to bump off the dangerous don Raje Bhai (Ranvir Shorey) and VK to take his place. In the course of the film, VK ends up believing he actually is the don and head of Raje Bhai’s extended family, only to be hit hard by reality.

Kapoor’s story idea had great potential. In fusing the ol’ Indian philosophy as its theme with the most celebrated elements on Indian screen – Bollywood and Underworld – as its context, Kapoor surely had a winner in his hands. Although the film at its basic story is original and made with taste, there are notable problems with the screenplay and its execution.

If the idea was to explore the mithya (lie or illusion) of the glitter of bollywood and underworld, the screenplay fails to bring it out and create the narrative strength it needs. The half-comic first part, where the actor VK unwittingly gets dragged into the rivalry of two gangs, goes well with some credible work put in by the actors. However, there is a certain lack of movement in the narrative once VK gets into the Don’s den. But the real problem comes with the narrative twist when the actor loses his memory and starts believing he is actually the Don. This twist just fails to click.

The character of the Don, Raje Bhai is never analyzed. Except for one short video, one doesn’t see him much. So when VK prepares to play Raje Bhai, he is mostly working on his muscles or his moustache and perhaps a certain tone of voice. One is not surprised he loses confidence within days of entering Raje’s household. This lack of characterization also means that one doesn’t see the dramatic change in VK’s behaviour once he loses his original identity. For dramatic purposes and also for the irony of the situation to work, it was imperative that the audience see the contrast between the earlier VK and the new one. This failure of irony (of the actor now living the part he was supposed to play) also affects the unfolding tragedy of his being discovered.

And it certainly doesn’t help that the protagonist dies. After all, the whole idea of illusion versus reality was to be played through his conscience. It is then aesthetically and narratively jarring to see the protagonist die and the director take over to show what happened to other characters.

It is curious that Rajat Kapoor does not discuss his original idea in his more recent interviews and instead calls his film ‘an ode to the old Hollywood gangster films – like Little Caesar and Scarface.’ Now if one were to see Mithya as a gangster film it would do the film even less credit. Rajat could have been referring to the Hollywood classics in matters of story and setting (in fact, Mithya has a greater semblance, if only in passing, with the Indian film, ‘Don’, directed by Chandra Barot), but situating his film in the above category – threatens to completely take away its original & novel conception.

Ranvir Shorey does well as the half-comic struggling actor but falls short of creating the pathos necessary for the tragic end. Neha Dhupia has more screen time than spoken lines, which is just as well. As mentioned earlier the supporting cast does a great job (notably, Vinay Pathak and Naseeruddin Shah). The dialogues are not extraordinary but serve the purpose and are occasionally funny. More work was needed if they were to carry the black humour that Rajat seems to be attempting in many of the scenes. Some of the locations used in the film work well in creating the realistic framework.

Mithya is not a bad film, but knowing the director, it could have been better.
– Padmaja Thakore

2. Mithya: A Quasi Tragic Thriller

“Mithya” is the one that appears to be Sat (the existent – the past, present, and future) at first sight, but is really Asat (the non-existent). Yeh main nahin keh raha hoon; yeh Bhagvad Gita main likha hain.

“Mithya” is the third offering of Rajat Kapoor whose previous ventures were the unconventional, but laudable “Raghu Romeo” and “Mixed Doubles”. Here he teams up with Saurabh Shukla for the Screenplay.

There have been plenty of Hindi movies which have been focusing on the heady rise and fall of Dons, their lives, their molls, their pet peeves and their eccentricities. But there have been very few movies that have been focusing on the fate of small fry who are used as pawns by the kingpins. Mithya is one movie that attempts to weave a story around one such pawn.

The movie traces the life of VK (Ranvir Shorey), a wannabe actor, who struggles even to get a decent role as an extra. He goes through the grind by begging for work on a daily basis, sucking up role coordinators, bargaining with the friendly wine shop owner and losing temper in midst of all this. But he’s never disheartened and is always full of hope that his talent will be noticed someday and he’ll gain fame. As fate would have it, he does get noticed finally. Only it’s not a producer who notices, but it’s a gang that’s headed by Shetty (Saurabh Shukla) and Gawde (Naseruddin Shah). Instead of gaining fame, his life turns upside down forever and ever after that.

The first half has its share of gags and laughs which range from witty to hilarious. The presence of cronies Ram (Vinay Pathak) and Sham only elevates the hilarious situation that VK finds himself in. The story is built up very nicely and the ending of the first half does leave you gasping for more. The second half of the film in contrast is more somber and a tad serious. As VK’s life seems to spiral more and more out of control you can’t help but feel sorry for the sad situation that he unwittingly and unknowingly finds himself in.

The movie’s hero without any doubt is definitely the screenplay of the movie. The narrative’s pretty smooth and there’s hardly any loose end in the entire movie. The screenplay has quite a few twists that you won’t be able predict but none of the twists seems to be convoluted or forced. The editing and cinematography is top-notch. The movie is quite well paced and picks up pace big time in the second half. The background music is above par and does a wonderful job in setting up
the mood of the scenes. Some of the music strangely reminded me of Requiem for a Dream. Co-incidentally even in that movie the protagonists find themselves in a situation which has no outlet what so ever.

Ranvir Shorey as VK turns up with a first class performance as a struggling actor who effortlessly spews out “To Be or Not To Be” in Hindi. The role seemed to be tailor made for him and he does full justice to the character. He carries the film in his shoulders quite well. Hope to see him in more lead roles. Neha Dhupia as his love interest does a decent job. Naseruddin Shah, Vinay Pathak, Saurabh Shukla, Harsh Chaya – all turn up in important character roles and deliver commendable performances.

The director Rajat Kapoor does a fine job in expounding a tad intricate screenplay which has been co-authored by him. The scale and canvass of this movie is much larger than his earlier movies but he pulls it off quite well. All the actors admirably support him to make the movie all the more believable. The movie is replete with his quirky sense of humour which ensures that there’s hardly any dull moment in the narrative. A special mention must be made of Planman Motion Pictures who have produced the movie. Here’s wishing that more such movies will come out of their stable. (NB: Please don’t give us more “Rok Sako Toh Rok Loh”)

A must watch movie for its unconventional treatment; the casting of proper actors in all the roles; and above all watch it for finally seeing a movie that does not succumb to the so called market-diktats.
– Sudhir Nair, Mumbai

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~ by Rajeev on February 12, 2008.

4 Responses to “Mithya”

  1. Great review of the film. Who has written it?

  2. […] bookmarks tagged realistic Mithya saved by 3 others     gryteke bookmarked on 02/12/08 | […]

  3. As updated in the posting — reviews are written by Padmaja Thakore and Sudhir Nair respectively.

  4. Itna andhera kyun hai bhai… sara black black.. Sanjay leela bhansali se inspired ho kya ?

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