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Ashdoc's movie review---Mukti bhavan
The town of Banaras---the heart of hinduism , on the banks of the much polluted ( remember the movie 'Ram teri Ganga mailee' ? ) river Ganga . But the river still gives mental peace to millions of hindus who crave for eternal salvation on it's banks . And I find cinematic peace when the camera rolls on it's wide banks capturing it's gentle flow on film . That's the reason I went to see 'Masaan' ( another movie based on the banks of the Ganges ) and I went to see this again ; to get my two hours of peace in the midst of the harsh realities of life .
The theme was appropriately philosophical for such peace of mind---Mukti bhavan ( salvation house ) , an establishment for the journey from life towards death . Such a place really exists in Banaras , but those like me who are used to living in posh hotels would forget real life peace if we had to live really there . For Mukti bhavan has the choicest of cockroaches and rats for company especially in the night . The quarters are dingy , and there is hardly any privacy .
But an old man coming to his end probably has other thoughts on his mind than comfort ; it is the journey to the other dimension that occupies his mind . Such people do come to end their days in the house of salvation in the holiest of holies on the banks of the mother Ganga . In this film Daya ( Lalit Behl ) is such a man . He gets dreams seeing which he feels that his end is near . He forces his son Rajeev ( Adil Hussain ) to take him to Mukti bhavan for the end of his days .
Rajeev has pressures of his job and the impending marriage of his daughter Sunita ( Palomi Ghosh ) , and comes only reluctantly to the bhavan with his father . Because of his pressures , back home he is an unresponsive father to his daughter and has fixed her marriage without her consent .
But as days unfold in Mukti bhavan , the father and son find time to reconnect with each other on the banks of the gently flowing Ganga . For here , inspite of lack of material comforts there is calm and peace away from the regular tensions of life . As Sunita and Rajeev's wife Lata ( Geetanjali Kulkarni ) come to meet them , the old man realises that his grand daughter is not happy with the impending marriage and advises her to follow her mind . He also tells Rajeev of his daughter's unhappiness .
Mukti bhavan is a quirky place with some quirky people . The manager Mishraji ( Anil Rastogi ) always claims that the place is full , but if he likes the guest he accommodates him or her saying that one person residing there has died thus vacating his place for the next !! Mishraji makes sure that the incoming guests eat no nonveg and have no vices , but then slyly tells the place to get intoxicants in the neighbourhood.....He always claims that a person has maximum 15 days to die here or get out , but if the 15 days are passed without dying he simply allows the guest to stay without changing the rules by changing the guest's name and identity....
A similar such guest residing there is Vimla ( Navnindra Behl ) , who is a widow who has been there for 18 years . She feels jealous of those who die quickly in Mukti bhavan while she still waits for salvation---the quirks in the film are endless , and the audience was laughing this journey to death . Daya forms a friendship with Vimla , and they begin to go on boat rides together and even sleeping side by side....was an old age romance building ? But Daya also reads meaningful poems with his son on the banks of the mighty Ganges , and the son does not want to leave it's banks until he is forced by his father....
Meanwhile his daughter has cancelled her marriage plans , but the Rajeev who has come back home is a changed man.... he does not get angry with his daughter . He even helps her learn to ride a scooter , something that he was opposed to earlier . His old father's journey to death has helped him find his sensitivity to his family again .
The film captures the sights sounds and smells of Varanasi yet again after 'Masaan' already did . Photography is good , and even better are the dialogues and poems read out . Acting is at it's very best by everyone , and background score is decent---though there are no songs .
But it is an archetypal art film , and commercial film aficionados will want to give it a miss . Only watchers of off beat films should watch it .
Three stars .
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