Movie Review: Malaal

Asha Tripathi (Sharmin Segal) has to come and live in a chawl with her family as her father suffered a heavy loss on the stock market. She meets Shiva More (Meezaan Jaffrey) there and sparks fly. Shiva is a slacker who wants to be in the good books of a local politician.

He initially hates Asha as she’s an ‘outsider’ but later softens his stance. He falls in love with her and she too is attracted. She understands he’s a good person and tries to reform him through love. He too wants to change for her. They do go through some hurdles and just when you think things might change for the better, fate has something else in store for them…

Starting in the ’90s and ending in the present era, Malaal is an adaptation of the 2004 Tamil hit 7G Rainbow Colony. That film was praised for its realistic portrayals and director Mangesh Hadawale, known for his award-winning Marathi film Tingya (2008) has adapted it well in a Maharashtrian setting. A large portion of the film is set in a Mumbai chawl and the chawl culture is brought out well in Malaal. The film touches upon the outsider versus Maharashtrian conflict but thankfully inter-state politics is never made out to be its focal point. 

Director Mangesh Hadawale has made sure the film doesn’t deviate from its roots. We see a girl concerned about the man she loves and the guy willing to give his life another chance for her sake. She’s practical enough to sense that her once well-to-do parents will never accept him even if he transforms himself from being a mawali. Still, she wants him to do well for himself as she understands he has the potential. It’s he who is a dreamer and at one point, she even warns him to stop dreaming and move on. There is no melodrama involved when such exchanges take place. The innocence of first love is retained. The conversations, the situations feel real. Yes, being a commercial product, we do see the hero beating up ten goons but the fight isn’t totally one-sided. The end can be said to be a bit over-the-top but even that is kind of justified. The love story is a slow boil. Unlike the trend we see today, where the protagonists jump into bed in the second frame of the film, the lovers never rush in but take their time before consummating the relationship. And it’s the girl who is shown taking the lead. It’s her choice and not his compulsion. 

It’s produced by Sanjay Leela Bhansali and one can see Bhansali’s touches, especially when it comes to song picturisation. He has also contributed to the music. It’s the most toned-down Bhansali film as yet. The opulence and grandeur aren’t there but we don’t miss them. 

Sharmin is Bhansali’s niece and Meezaan is Javed Jaffrey’s son. He dances like an angel but the film doesn’t just showcase his dancing skills but offers him up as a complete product. Sharmin too impresses with her timing. Both Meezaan and Sharmin are as natural as they come and do full justice to their well-written roles. The director has made sure their eyes, their silences emote more than the dialogue. They share an easy camaraderie with each other and look good as a couple. The industry is always hungry for more talent and it’s good to know it has found two performers in Meezaan and Sharmin. 

Watch the film for its old-fashioned love story and realistic performances…

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