Begum Jaan Review – Too Loud and Plain

Rating: 2.5/5

Critic Rating: (2.5/5)

Movie Name Begum Jaan
Movie Cast Vidya Balan, Gauhar Khan, Naseeruddin Shah
Director Srijit Mukherji
Music Director Anu Malik,Khayyam
Production Company Shree Venkatesh Films
Release Date April 14, 2017

Often we have seen movies themed around partition, but none with women taking the center stage. Begum Jan breaks the ice and comes off as one such movie. Directed by Srijit Mukherji who has remade his own Bengali film into Begum Jaan. However he sets this period drama in Punjab border.

Vidya Balan in Begum Jaan
Vidya Balan in Begum Jaan

From the trailers one can make out it’s about some fearless women in a brothel who are ready for a war. The movie dates back to 1947 in the independence era. Pakistan has been freshly partitioned. The government wants to draw a line of border. There is a brothel which exists on this border line, where half it geographically belongs to Punjab and half to Lahore. The women in brothel are asked to evict. The women aren’t ready to give it up and then the battle for the border begins. The rest of the story is about the struggle, side-effects of the struggle, some sub-plots and the culmination.

From the beginning, the movie maintains a loud tone throughout which is one of the biggest drawbacks. The director didn’t seem to have the word subtle in his dictionary. The melodrama is not just loud but exaggerated. There is also a spoon-feeding at the end to make sure audience did get the message which they were trying to narrate the whole 2 hours hence beating the purpose of the screenplay. There are some dialogues that hold the attention though.

There ensemble is huge. Many of them stand out, but Chunkey Pandey gives the biggest surprise as an antagonist. Mrs. Balan was no doubt true to her character. She plays the Big Boss of the brothel. She comes off as a foul mouthed and headstrong woman but feels for everyone and is the guardian for everyone in the house. A complex character to portray but she does it with an ease. Amazing body language. To support her Pallavi Sharda and Gauhar Khan also make a good impact. Naseeruddin Shah excels as usual. Rajit Kapur and Ashish Vidyarthi were decent too, representing the countries.

Though it has a good ensemble, its quantity over quality. Many characters looked half-baked and under developed. It could have been better if the director restrained himself to focusing only in few, as the movie as a whole was too much to consume. The backstories do evoke sympathy, but somehow the over-stuffed content makes it fizzle in not much time.

Cinematography of the movie is also a bit distracting. Music is average. The duration is slightly more than two hours but the content is loaded. The cast run the movie to a major extent.

On the whole, Begum Jaan is a movie that is watchable if one can tolerate the loudness and the shrill.

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Vidya Balan

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