Begum Jaan – Movie Review by Ashish Ponda
The movie opens first to the Baritone voice of the Big B and then to the scene of some thugs in a Delhi bus trying to violate a women’s dignity. Here comes the 1st strong scene of the movie where an elderly lady makes the thugs ashamed by offering her body to them instead of the young girl after whom the thugs were running. The context of the movie is thus set by this scene.
We are then taken into a flashback of pre-independence days wherein a group of ladies who are into the so called oldest profession of this world, face a lot of difficulties in their life trying to battle the men and the politics of the nation. They live with Begum Jaan the brothel owner with whom the administration and the local people are scared and who enjoys the support of the local king.
The partition invokes the implementation of the Radcliffe Line, which passes right through the middle of Begums brothel. The government officials try to convince her to leave her house, but she is adamant that she will not leave. So what happens in the end, will she succumb to the pressure or will she fight them out is the question which will be answered in the end of the movie.
The first half of the movie is a little boring as you try to get the grip on the story but is let down by very weak screenplay. The 2nd half is much better with a tighter storyline and some hard hitting and violent scenes. Most part of the movie was boring and the audience could not connect to what was happening on the screen.
The last 30 minutes of the final battle between Begum along with her girls and the thug along with his croons is the highlight of the movie. The last scene where Begum and the girls go inside the house which is already on fire and they close the door with a smile on their faces (full of sarcasm and pain) still lingers in my mind.
What did not work for me – a weak screenplay, an mediocre storyline and lots of cast getting wasted. Direction by Srijit Mukherji along with the songs & music are forgettable. What stood out for me was Vidya Balan (Begum Jaan), Gauhar Khan (Rubina), the mimicry by Pitobash Tiwary (Sujith) & Chunky Pandey as the ruthless & menacing thug.
The intent of this 134 minutes long movie is very good but the delivery fails and this is very sad.