By Martin D’Souza | Opening Doorz Editorial | April 06, 2017

Rating: 3 / 5

3stars


The essence: What actually brings the movie to life is the lead cast of Adil Hussain (who plays Rajiv), the dutiful middle-aged son, and Lalit Behl. Both dig in their heels to dig out a crafty performance. It is these two who make the movie worth a watch.


Art is subjective. A geometric design of S H Raza may cost a million bucks but to many, their kids make a better impression with crayons!

Mukti Bhawan is art house cinema that has done the festival circuit in the last year winning some good reports. But as I settled to watch the much-touted film, I was wondering what the fuss was all about?

Agreed, Shubhashish Bhutiani, the 25-year-old director, has spunk to travel where no one will dare to. But the premise of the film does not satisfy. But that is art, like Raza’s geometric designs, and it is subjective.

A 77-year-old father wakes up one day and decides that he has to check in to Mukti Bhawan (Hotel Salvation) on the banks of Varanasi to die. Mind you, there is nothing physically wrong with him. So the entire family decides to put their life on hold while he waits for his death.

Now herein lies the funny part. He is allowed just 15 days at the lodge (where people check in to die), after which he has to check out, if he is alive. Here, the elderly gent finds a widow who had checked in with her husband many years ago. Her husband died within the stipulated 15 days. She continued to live, in search of her death.

Every fortnight, she changed her name and once a ‘pilgrim’ decides to stay, the caretaker has no option but to allow, provided the rent is paid and the name is changed!

So this elderly gent stays put with his son (who has left his wife, daughter and his government job), waiting for his death. When nothing happens for over a month, his daughter-in-law and grand-daughter come over for a visit and then the son decides to go back to his daily life?

One day, as expected, the father dies. Son is heart-broken! Father had to die, since he desired to; the son should have been better prepared. What a waste of life! Here, we see people suffering, fighting for life and on the other hand we have Daya (Lalit Behl) wasting his life away. He is not only selfish in his approach, but also self-centered. Instead of making his life count, he counts the seconds. Instead of celebrating life, he is digging his grave (or rather, building his pyre). There is power in what we speak and he speaks death!

What brings the film to life is the lead cast of Adil Hussain (who plays Rajiv), the dutiful middle-aged son, and Lalit Behl. Both dig in their heels to dig out a crafty performance. No gloss, no glamour, just plain, ‘in-your-face’ take on life.

While Daya goes about his decision nonchalantly, enjoying his dose of bhaang-filled lassi as well as his daily ‘soap’ on TV, Rajiv succumbs to his father’s wish, waiting like the dutiful Indian son. In Titli (a terrific film on all counts) Behl flits in and out of the room when his sons are speaking. He is either sipping tea, or nonchalantly having his lunch. There is no much dialogue, but he delivers everything with his body language and penetrating gaze. He does the same in Mukti Bhawan. Adil, too, is first rate, suppressing his frustration and at the same time exposing his emotions.

It is just these two who make the movie worth a watch. And it is these two who prod me to give it a three-star rating!

Hotel Salvation (Mukti Bhawan) could have been named ‘Hotel California’…

“You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave!”


CREDITS
Producer: Sanjay Bhutiani
Director:
 Shubhashish Bhutiani
Star Cast: Adil Hussain, Lalit Behl

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