Mukkabaaz Movie Review: Vineet Kumar Singh Shines In Anurag Kashyap’s Greatest Film

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Mukkabaaz review: Vineet Kumar Singh in a still (Image courtesy: AnuragK2.0)

Cast: Vineet Kumar Singh, Rajesh Tailang, Jimmy Shergill, Shreedhar Dubey, Zoya Hussain

Director: Anurag Kashyap

Rating: Five stars

There is nothing I love more in boxing than the feint. The act of throwing half a punch – the very beginning of the blow, to be precise – in order to bluff and misdirect your opponent, making them bob the wrong way before you hook them right, is elegantly artful. Mukkabaaz does this devastatingly well. As a viewer, it is enormously thrilling when a film threatens or promises to go in one direction, prepares you for it, and heads surprisingly, joyously in another. This is not the film you might expect.

The film opens with a lynching. Worse, it opens with a lynching that is being recorded on a cameraphone, as Muslim cow-traders are beaten and exhorted to say ‘Jai Shri Ram.’ This is horrific, but the two boxers watching the clip later are merely bemused. They identify the goons as fellow fighters, and, walking past one of them, tease him as he cursorily denies the accusations. Their tone is not of admonition and accusation but of jovial jeering, as if a rascal was caught doing something playful. This is what it means to them. These are the boxers of Bareilly, and our hero Shravan Kumar is the best of the lot.

Thus does director Anurag Kashyap double-load the film right from the start, giving us a hero to love – soft-eyed and sincere and spry – while making him worship a rapist like Mike Tyson. Kashyap is at his absolute best in Mukkabaaz, all heart and heartland, a movie made with a vintage filmi sensibility but highly modern skills. And a story that bleeds. The love is pulpy and the revenge served up with masala, and that treatment takes this vital narrative farther.

Our boxer rebels, you see. One sunny day he steps up against his dictatorial boxing overlord, a coach who makes his students carry grain and clean mutton, and socks him in the face. This is not because of righteous indignation – though he claims it is – but because a girl in the coach’s house has arrested his attention and he wants, desperately, to make an impression. He is thrashed, soundly, by several, but he has played his card. He wants nothing more than to be her hero.

She, too, wants a hero. Appropriately named Sunaina – the one with lovely eyes – she is a mute girl who speaks volumes with her giant, limpid eyes, and they gleam as she tries to convince her mother that this boxer is a good idea. The mother has several objections, but she brushes them aside as she imitates Ranveer Singh’s dandruffy Tattar-Tattar dance step to say that Shravan looks at her the way Singh looks at… Looks at who, her mother asks? Sign language is forsaken now as she moves her mouth enthusiastically, with an Indian heroine needing no more than a couple of syllables for complete recognition: Dee-pi-ka.

These lovers are, naturally, star-crossed. He is a boxer with little hope of a fighting future especially after his impulsively-conceived act of defiance, and Sunaina is not just a Brahmin but the niece to the man Shravan punched. There are massive complications, but Kashyap tackles them with a superbly light touch, throwing in crowdpleasing lines and lyrics as well as an overall front-bencher approach that genuinely made me whistle. This doesn’t come at the cost of the film’s politics. Pricklier and slyer than the director has been in the past, Mukkabaaz reaches its dark centre with a scene where neighbours come over and offer what they call mutton to a Dalit coach before there is a power outage. The cow-mob erupts all over the boxers who didn’t know better.

The film has four cinematographers – Rajeev Ravi, Shanker Raman, Jay Patel, Jayesh Nair – and I assume a couple of them were responsible exclusively for the in-ring action, which looks fantastically credible as well as mud-coated and earthy. There is a terrific tracking shot in the beginning, which follows Shravan as he enters the feudal coach’s home, and delivers the grain before looking up and the shot breaks only when he looks up to see Sunaina. It’s a fine looking film, bright and vivid yet shadowy when it needs to be, and the music by Nucleya and Rachita Arora gives it vitality, with some lyrics penned by co-screenwriter Vineet Kumar Singh, who also happens to play Shravan.
His is a tremendous performance, not least because of his staggeringly authentic physicality. Singh looks the part, from the way his t-shirt sleeve cuts into his biceps like tightly tied twine to the agility with which he skips in the ring, and his arduous workouts immediately put glossier Hindi film heroes in their place. He makes Shravan real, when he’s throwing punches as well as when he’s vulnerable. Singh has always been impressive, but this is the kind of breakout performance that will make the country take notice. It’s a knockout. This is a long film, and contains interludes that aren’t strictly necessary – like that of a sadistic boss – but Vineet’s compelling performance makes him a character to root for, and even if we are shown the odds too many times, his triumphs feel earned, they feel good. They feel like our triumphs.

He is also a thickheaded hero, one who beats people up and apologises to them, repeatedly, and the way he looks at his heroine is with reined-in desire, expressing his interest with apologetic eyes, as if he doesn’t dare expect reciprocation.

It isn’t hard to see why he would be smitten. The girl’s hands move faster than his own, while furiously expressing herself via sign-language, sure, but also when she slaps him, which she does hard and with impunity, whenever she needs to make a point. Zoya Hussain is great in an excessively demanding part, mute but loud as can be, the feistiest heroine we’ve had in a while.

Ravi Kishan blew me away with his role as a sincere Dalit coach, one who grew up idolising Pele, wasn’t allowed to box, but is an athlete and sits bolt upright, even when being insulted.

[“Source-ndtv”]

Kaalakaandi Box Office Collection Day 1: Saif Ali Khan’s Film Gets A ‘Slow Start,’ Collects…

Kaalakaandi Box Office Collection Day 1: Saif Ali Khan's Film Gets A 'Slow Start,' Collects...

Box Office: Kaalakaandi: Saif Ali Khan in the film. (Image courtesy: Kaalakaandi Film)

NEW DELHI: 

HIGHLIGHTS

  1. Kaalakaandi features Saif Ali Khan in the lead role
  2. The film grosses Rs. One crore
  3. The film also stars Deepak Dobriyal

Saif Ali Khan’s latest release Kaalakaandi, which opened to positive reviews on Friday, has ‘grossed one crore net’ at the box office on Day 1, Box Office India reported. The film stars Saif Ali Khan as the protagonist, who has been diagnosed with stomach cancer. Saif’s character does not have much time in hand and he realises that he should make the most of the remaining days. Box Office India also reports that because the film is set in the backdrop of Mumbai, it has performed a little better in Mumbai and Pune as compared to other cities. Earlier, of Kaalakaandi, film distributor Akshaye Rathi told Indian Express that the film will perhaps manage a score of Rs.1.5 crores on opening day and that the first weekend collections will be limited to single figures.

Kaalakaandi released at the box office with Anurag Kashyap’s Mukkabaaz and Zareen Khan’s 1921.

1921 was the best out of the three films with collections set to be in the 1.50 crore net range, reported Box Office India while Mukkabaaz had the lowest number with around 75  lakhs net.

In his review for NDTV, film critic Saibal Chatterjee gave Saif’s film 3 stars out of 5. “For cinema trivia geeks, Kaalakaandi is strewn with interesting takeaways. The principal protagonist (Saif Ali Khan), who like the conscientious but dull bureaucrat Watanabe in the Akira Kurosawa classic Ikiru, is diagnosed with stomach cancer and given only a few months to live. The multiple tales unfold in parallel arcs. It is only in the penultimate scenes and a zany final shot that the plot connects a few of the characters but only in a tenuous manner. Kaalakaandi takes a while to warm up but when it does it sets a lively pace, especially in the second half,” he wrote.

Apart from Saif Ali Khan, Kaalakaandi also stars actors like Deepak Dobriyal, Vijay Raaz and Kunaal Roy Kapur.

[“Source-ndtv”]

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Keep Away From Benami Transactions, Warns Income Tax Department

Keep Away From Benami Transactions, Warns Income Tax Department

The taxman is the nodal department to enforce the Benami Act in the country

New Delhi: The Income Tax Department on Wednesday warned people to “keep away” from benami transactions, cautioning that violations under the newly enacted law invites criminal prosecution and rigorous imprisonment up to seven years. The department put out its alert in a public advertisement published in leading national dailies.

Titled “Keep Away from Benami Transactions”, it described black money as a “crime against humanity” and urged “conscientious citizens to help the government in eradicating it”.

“Benamidar (in whose name benami proper is standing), beneficiary (who actually paid consideration) and persons who abet and induce benami transactions are prosecutable and may face rigorous imprisonment up to 7 years besides being liable to pay fine up to 25 per cent of fair market value of benami property,” the I-T advertisement said.

The tax department attached benami assets worth Rs. 1,833 crore across the country, issued 517 notices and made 541 attachments, from November 1, 2016 to October 2017.

The department started initiating action under the new Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Act, 2016 from November 1, 2016.

The advertisement added that “persons who furnish false information to authorities under Prohibition of Benami Property Transactions Act, 2016, are prosecutable and may be imprisoned up to 5 years besides being liable to pay fine up to 10 per cent of fair market value of benami property”.

It added that benami property “may be attached and confiscated by the government” and that this action will be in in addition to prosecution under the Income Tax Act of 1961 for tax evasion charges.

The Income Tax Department is the nodal department to enforce the Benami Act in the country.

[“Source-ndtv”]