January 12, 2013 cinegoer.net
Mandola is Pankaj Kapur, a stinking rich alcoholic who lives in a massive haveli in sprawling acres of land, he suffers from a split personality. During day time he is this scheming real estate developer plotting to take away the villagers land and build malls and apartments and in the latter part of the day when he hits the bottle, he turns lovey dovey.
Apart from choppers, limousines, trucks (apparently new models in his daughter's name) he has employed Matru (Imran Khan) and this Man Friday's job is to see that he doesn't drink excessively and carefully takes him back home when he is completely sozzled, in other words he has to accompany him everywhere and be a partner in drink. He is a bonded labourer who, even after completing his education, is serving Mandola for the loan his grandfather had borrowed from Harry. The third character is Bijlee (Anushka Sharma); her role is quite confusing. She is a bindaas character, wears shorts and skimpy clothes with villagers gaping at her but she lacks the courage to tell her father Mandola that she is in love with the servant Matru.
Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola begins with few important issues of the country like a politician and the moneyed class deciding to grab the villagers land and make it into a special economic zone, so they do all their best to make their green fields barren and even sprinkle a chemical to destroy it. Devi (Shabana Azmi) the politician teams up with Mandola and even pitches her son Badal (Arya Babbar) for an alliance with Mandola's daughter, a marriage of convenience. She is for ever making sure that Mandola is not drunk so that he behaves like a real corporate honcho.
Now the film begins on an interesting note; both Matru nd Mandola drive into a shack because the owner refuses to give alcohol as it is a dry day. In another funny situation, Matru is forced to get into a chopper with Mandola and when it catches fire in the air, Mandola is least bothered and lights his cigarette with the fire before jumping off from the sky. There are many more light moments but what happens is as the film progresses, the narration, the performance becomes very slow.
The story is predictable right, but film focuses on Mandola only. Anushka comes in the first half for a few minutes and disappears. In the second half of the story it is a small part but an important one, ditto with Imran Khan. He hardly has anything to do as major space goes to Shabana and Pankaj Kapur. Also one doesn't understand why Mao Tse-tung's name is taken always and a girl living in such wealth, reading Shakespeare falls for a shallow and a mindless human being who flies down Zulu tribe for song and dance just because she loves African folk music.
There is getting back by Anushka when Arya Babbar calls her a bitch and she still agrees to the wedding. Anushka is wasted and Imran's role could have been done by anyone. Badal's role is essentially to be silent and say yes everytime his mother comes up with a scheme, wants to marry Bijlee to enjoy the property of the Mandolas and a pink or a Gulabi bhains (buffalo) which keeps appearing in the film every now and then to haunt Harry Mandola.
The film doesn't get funny after a point, there is no conflict scene except the rain that lashes the village and spoils the grains and accentuates in cancelling the Australian order. There are fantastic actors in the film but the director falters in his narration skill. Pankaj Kapur impresses, and Imran's is more of a costume drama, Anushka freaks out in her short and energetic role. The dialogues are the asset and the film mostly falls in a comedy genre.
The joke played on Navneet Nishan as a Gulabi (pink) bhains becomes repetitive. The movie barely manages to hold one's attention in the first half owing to its slow narration but gathers pace only towards the fag end of the film. Comedy scenes are weaved into the tale but there are only a few sensible ones that truly manage to bring a broad smile. And ditto for the serious scenes too that were put to induce contemplation.
The best part about the film is that the characters are sketched very nicely and the actors too have done their job in playing their parts. Also, the joke played on Navneet Nishan is worth underlining too. A fat Navneet has been made to wear a pink dress that is an allegory related to the Gulabi bhains. The songs are pretty average, nothing to boast off.
Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola like we said goes very slow and one tends to lose interest rather very quickly. It is only during the saat pheras, that the film springs to life. Just watch the film if you have nothing else to do otherwise avoid it.