It's become a ritual. Week after week, I make it a point to gauge audience expectations from a forthcoming movie on Twitter and Facebook. Based on what they have seen in the promos of a forthcoming film, or after listening to its soundtrack, the prospective viewers/moviegoers share their thoughts on the movie on my timeline. MAUSAM, I must add, had generated tremendous excitement prior to its release for varied reasons. One of the key reasons being, it is helmed by one of the most respected and accomplished actors of India -- Pankaj Kapur. This, in my opinion, is also its unique selling proposition.
MAUSAM is being advocated as one of the greatest, epic love stories on celluloid. A story that talks of unconditional love against all adversities. First-time director Pankaj Kapur narrates a saga of star-crossed lovers facing various storms in their lives and of course, seasons. The story begins in the early 1990s and concludes a decade later, encompassing historical events that affected our lives -- displacement of Kashmiri Pandits, Babri Masjid episode, Mumbai blasts, 9/11, Kargil war and Gujarat riots. Though the on-screen characters make a veiled attack on the atrocities inflicted on the common man, MAUSAM remains a love story at heart.
One has come to expect mesmeric romance and lilting tunes, backed by sensitive portrayals, from a true-blue romantic film. Unfortunately, MAUSAM suffers for the very reason that one may have assumed would be its biggest strength -- writing. The screenplay, to put it bluntly, is unengaging and what makes it worse is the fact that it seems like a never-ending saga. The film just goes on and on and on, moving from one city/country to another, till the viewer gets jetlagged and exhausted by watching this saga unfold on screen. With a running time of close to 3 hours, MAUSAM has a few sequences that do stand out, but the weak script blows the efforts away.
MAUSAM starts with mere adolescent attraction between a Punjabi boy Harry [Shahid Kapoor] and a Kashmiri girl Aayat [Sonam Kapoor] in a small village of Punjab. It develops into young love between them in season two. Their love realizes its own depth in the hours of separation through season three. In the fourth and final season, their love culminates into togetherness. But not before sacrificing a lot personally and learning the truth behind universal love.
MAUSAM has an old-world charm, no two opinions about it. The magic of the good old days is delectable and it's a great feeling to go back in time. Right from the setting to the costumes to the overall ambience, the film succeeds in pulling you back in time. But like I pointed out at the outset, the writing leaves a sour taste in your mouth. It lacks meat.
Let me elaborate. The transition from Season 1 [in Punjab] to Season 2 [in Scotland] seems most unreal. The transition from a small village in Punjab to a palatial mansion and shop in Scotland remains a mystery. It truly baffles you. Also, when Sonam accidentally spots Shahid in Scotland, after a gap of many years, you'd expect her to rush up to him; if not hug him, at least make him aware that they've finally found/traced each other. But she doesn't, till he traces her and leaves a note for her. Why does Sonam evade him on the street first and at the concert later? Those in love would jump at the very first opportunity to rekindle an old flame, right?
The graph of the film moves downwards with each passing episode. The war and the aftermath doesn't work, the Switzerland incident [when Shahid spots Sonam and chases her again, only to find her with someone else], though well shot, adds to the length, while the finale in Ahmedabad -- the climax -- is far from convincing. Besides, the lovers cross paths so many times that it doesn't come across as a coincidence anymore. Also, their reunion doesn't make you feel euphoric at all. The film doesn't end at that. There's an element of heroism injected in the finale moments of the film and it is so ridiculous that you actually rub your eyes in disbelief. Seriously, Mr Kapur, what were you thinking when you wrote this part?
Pankaj Kapur is a brilliant actor, but he has a long, long way to go when it comes to writing a screenplay and telling a story without stretching it. There's no denying that he has handled a number of sequences adroitly, but after a point, MAUSAM becomes a tedious experience that sets in boredom and tests the patience of the viewer. The production values are top notch and producers Sheetal Vinod Talwar and Sunil Lulla deserve credit for giving the film a gargantuan look. The soundtrack of MAUSAM [Pritam] is a delight for listeners. The songs that stand out are 'Sajh Dhaj Ke' and 'Rabba Main Toh Mar Gaya Oye'. Binod Pradhan's cinematography is remarkable.
It must have been a challenge of sorts for Shahid and Sonam to get the roles right. For, both sport not one, but varied looks in the film. Shahid gives his all to this role, submitting himself to his director-father to mould him the way he chooses to. It won't be erroneous to state that Shahid surpasses all his previous performances, including the one in KAMINEY, with this film. The film also marks the coming of age of this actor. For Sonam, MAUSAM will prove to be a turning point in her career. Astonishing -- that would be the right word to describe her work this time around. The confidence with which she handles the distinct characterization speaks volumes.
Supriya Pathak Kapur is first-rate. Anupam Kher is wasted. Manoj Pahwa is wonderful, as always. The actors essaying the role of Sonam's father and sister are natural. Vaibhav Talwar gets no scope. Aditi Sharma excels in a brief role.
On the whole, MAUSAM is a colossal disappointment!