You don't expect much from certain films, but after having watched the film you realize that the movie-going experience was much better than you thought it would be. SHABNAM MOUSI fits this statement to the T.
Not that SHABNAM MOUSI is a classic by any standard, but it does have its moments!
Shabnam [Ashutosh Rana] was born to a cop in Mumbai. The story begins with the eunuchs finding out that a new-born child is a eunuch and deciding to take her away.
The child is raised by Halima [Vijay Raaz], a eunuch, and grows under the influence and cultures of these eunuchs, who are her daily companions. One day, the head eunuch, Amma [Vishwajeet Pradhan], decides to sell Shabnam to a truck driver, but Halima gets to know of it and a fight ensues. Halima gets killed in a freak accident and Shabnam is falsely accused of her murder.
Shabnam flees Mumbai and takes refuge in a small village in Madhya Pradesh. One night, Shabnam saves a village belle, Naina, from getting raped by local goons. This is the handiwork of the local politician, Ratan Babu [Govind Namdeo], who doesn't want his son to marry Naina.
Meanwhile, its election time and Ratan Babu's opponent within the political party, Vinod [Ashok Samarth], who doesn't get the election ticket, convinces Shabnam to file her candidature against Ratan Babu.
However, Ratan Babu patches up with Vinod, who in turn asks Shabnam to withdraw her candidature, but she refuses. As a final resort, they hire a contract killer, Madan Pandit [Mukesh Tiwari], to eliminate Shabnam, but Madan has a change of heart when he confronts Shabnam and decides to help her.
In the end, Madan sacrifices his life to save Shabnam. Also, Shabnam wins the elections and emerges victorious!
Based on a real-life story, SHABNAM MOUSI has several engaging moments. A number of sequences in the first half are well executed and the pacing is just right. The viewer gets involved in the narrative since a story like this has rarely been told in Bollywood.
Yes, there has been TAMANNA [Paresh Rawal] and SADAK [Sadashiv Amrapurkar], but SHABNAM MOUSI is realistic no doubt, but presented in a commercial format. However, the pace slows down in the post-interval portions. The political drama holds no novelty since similar sequences -- election propaganda, et al -- have been witnessed time and again.
Some of the noteworthy sequences include:-
- The sequence in the police station, soon after Ashutosh Rana is accused of murdering Vijay Raaz.
- Vijay Raaz's cremation where Ashutosh Rana confronts Vishwajeet Pradhan.
- The local goon attempting to rape Ashutosh Rana in front of the entire village, but Ashutosh overpowering him in the process.
- The final confrontation between Ashutosh and Govind, after the election results are declared.
On the flip side, the making of the film is very tacky. Better production values/sets would've helped. Also, the post-interval portions can do with trimming. The election song, filmed on Mukesh Tiwari, can easily be deleted. It'll only tighten the pace and take the story straight to its finale.
Yogesh Bhardwaj's direction is satisfying. Handling a complex subject like SHABNAM MOUSI is indeed a tough job, but Bhardwaj doesn't go overboard with melodrama. There's not much scope for music in a film like this and the songs just come and go. Dialogues [Aadesh K. Arjun] are one area that deserves high praises. The lines are first-rate.
Ashutosh Rana has handled his part well. The precision with which he performs the role need to be lauded. Another watchable performance comes from Mukesh Tiwari, who enacts a small but significant role. Ashok Samarth is another actor who is sure to be noticed.
Vijay Raaz and Vivek Shauq are competent. Govind Namdeo is efficient. Vishwajeet Pradhan is excellent. Paintal, in a brief role, impresses. Avtar Gill and Navni Parihar are alright.
On the whole, SHABNAM MOUSI is a sincere attempt, but a theme like this holds minimal appeal for moviegoers. Lack of star-value and hype will prove deterrents!