Every film has a story to narrate, even if the tale being depicted happens to be hackneyed. Also, the maker ought to take care that the viewer deciphers the story that is being unraveled on screen.
Sadly, M.F. Husain's MEENAXI leaves you feeling cold. The film does claim to have a story, but one presumes only Husain would be able to perceive what he intends conveying. For an avid Hindi film cinegoer, MEENAXI speaks a language that's more difficult to understand than say Russian and Spanish.
But, yes, the only purpose MEENAXI would serve after its release is increase the tourism in Rajasthan to an extent. That's it!
Nawab [Raghvir Yadav], a popular novelist of Hyderabad, is suffering from the classic case of a writer's block. Five years have elapsed. Stories of substance seem to have dried up.
Almost providentially, Nawab comes across Meenaxi [Tabu] at a qawwali ceremony. The young woman is enigmatic and individualistic. She's not quite willing to perform the part of a passive muse.
Meenaxi assumes different personae. She can be the mysterious perfume trader of Hyderabad, the exotic desert bloom of Jaisalmer and the orphaned Maria of Prague.
Inexorably, she consolidates her command over the novelist. She dismisses his renewed attempts at writing as insubstantial and hackneyed, plunging him into a state of deeper despair. She is scathingly critical about his story and is amused by one of the characters he creates, the lovelorn and awkward Kaameshwar [Kunnal Kapoor].
Nawab strives to start on a new page all over again. Meenaxi comments that perhaps the book is in vain. In any case, it is much too late. The writer must survive and live, if he can, without her support, inspiration and criticism.
MEENAXI is all about colors and visuals. With noted painter M.F. Husain in the director's seat yet again [after that fiasco called GAJA GAMINI], you expect the director to have learned a lesson or two about weaving magic on the silver screen. Unfortunately, MEENAXI is akin to a beautiful Husain creation without a soul!
It's difficult to fathom as to what the story is in the first place. When the famous novelist starts putting his thoughts on paper, the film takes you to an imaginative world, but suddenly comes back to the writer and again goes back to the imaginative world.
In this entire exercise, the hapless viewer gets so confused that he starts believing that Tabu has a double role in the enterprise. There's nothing that demarks reality and make-believe.
The biggest flaw is the way Husain has worked on the characterizations. Why does Raghuvir Yadav choose Tabu is left unexplained. Why does he pick on a garage mechanic [Kunnal Kapoor] is also inexplicable.
With the story proving to be a big puzzle, all that the viewer gets to relish are some brilliant visuals. But Husain ought to know that luminous visuals don't make a film. It's the story that matters in the first place.
Film-making is a director's medium and perhaps Husain has no clue what the cinegoer in India looks for in a Hindi film. Yes, there're songs, but they crop up without situations warranting them. Yes, there's romance, but not the type that makes your heart beat faster.
A.R. Rahman's music is plain mediocre. The master composer is not in his element here. Santosh Sivan's cinematography is fabulous. Dialogues are poetic, but they tend to get philosophical at times. When spoken in chaste Urdu, the viewer would be at a loss to comprehend yet again!
Given the kind of roles, Tabu, Raghuvir Yadav and Kunnal Kapoor try hard to get going. Tabu has never looked so pretty ever. Draped in ethnic outfits, her looks stand out more than her performance. However, Tabu's Hyderabadi dialect is all trumps!
Raghuvir Yadav gives a decent account of himself, although his talent remains untapped in an enterprise like this. Debutante Kunnal Kapoor looks confident. Despite performing with seasoned performers, this newcomer holds his innings well.
Nadira Babbar is lovable. Sharat Saxena and Bharat Kapoor don't really get much scope.
On the whole, MEENAXI is a damp squib. At the box-office, its rejection by the classes as well as the masses is inevitable.