Marathi filmmaker Nishikant Kamat has made his first Hindi/Bollywood film, but with unusual dignity and restraint—there are no dances—and on a sobering subject: in Mumbai, the coordinated seven July 11, 2006, railway bombings and their aftermath. Working from a commendable script by Yogesh Vinayak Joshi and Upendra Sidhaye, Kamat aims to show, he has said, “how people survive a personal tragedy.” In zigzagging Altmanian fashion, his accomplished, absorbing film juggles about ten major characters, three of whom are a computer person, who, heavily in debt, wrongly suspects Yusuf, a young Muslim, of being one of the terrorists responsible for 7/11, and Vinod, a non-resident Indian (NRI) who phones in a false bomb report to upset a mall that has ejected and banned him, his wife and daughter but rues his action when an elderly man suffers a heart attack during the mall evacuation. Kamat himself plays Vinod, giving the film’s most moving (and funniest) performance.
One trenchant plot-line belongs to Rupali Joshi, an opportunistic TV news reporter whose search for her fiancé, missing since the blasts, permits us a bracing tour of corpses and mutilated survivors.
Much of the acting in Mumbai, My Love is dreadful—teary, sentimental, farcically exaggerated in classic Bollywood style. Alas, most egregious is Soha Ali Khan’s performance as this news reporter, which consists of rank emoting rather than genuine characterization. Equally inept—indeed, unendurable—is Paresh Rawal as a bribe-collecting cop about to retire. On the other hand, Kay Kay Menon is good as the Muslim-hating malcontent, whose t-shirt sports a swastika—an inadvertent reminder that India’s national hero, Gandhi, celebrated the deaths of Jews in the Holocaust. Promoting passive resistance as a means of impressing the world conscience, Gandhi exemplified principle carried to a damnable fault.
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