Story: The youngest son of a Muslim family settled in Benaras gets involved in terrorist activities, leading to a bomb blast massacre. His actions have an adverse effect on the family who are left to defend themselves as people who are innocent and not anti-nationals
Review: Director Anubhav Sinha sets out to lay bare the prejudice that often precedes people’s perception of the Muslim community in our country. The patriarch of the family, Murad Ali Mohammed (Rishi Kapoor) is a well-respected lawyer who has Hindu friends in the mohallas of Benaras. His daughter-in-law, Aarti Mohammed, (Taapsee Pannu), is also a Hindu.
Following a bomb blast, which kills several people Murad Ali’s younger brother’s son, Shahid Mohammed (Prateik Babbar) becomes a suspected terrorist but refuses to surrender to the police. The horrific incident changes the lives of everyone in the family and Shahid’s father, Bilaal Mohammed (Manoj Pahwa) is taken into police custody under suspicion of being involved in terrorist activities. The family’s friends from other faiths also turn foes, and Murad Ali has no other option but to defend his brother and prove that they are as loyal and as patriotic as anybody else in the country.
Mulk throws light on how people fall prey to political agendas that intend to divide the country on the basis of ‘us’ vs ‘them’. Through the dialogue-heavy narrative, the film reiterates for the umpteenth time, that terrorism has no religion. However, the tonality of the film is far from subtle and the perspectives are presented vehemently in a manner that’s jarring and overbearing. The first half is slow-paced but what really works for the film is the dramatic courtroom scenes, which will make you think about the Islamophobia that exists around us. Sometimes without us being cognizant of it.
Rishi Kapoor as the patriarch performs his role with restraint and nuance. The seasoned actor brings gravitas to his portrayal of a Muslim man who refuses to succumb to the polarities manifested by both Hindus and Muslims. And yet, is aware that he has to prove his love for his country beyond doubt. Prateik Babbar as a young Muslim boy who voluntarily chooses to involve himself in a terrorist act despite being raised in a family, which has no allegiance to anti-national sentiments is miscast. Taapsee Pannu as the daughter-in-law shines in the courtroom scenes but at times, she falters at delivering lengthy monologues. In the supporting cast, Manoj Pahwa, Neena Gupta and Ashutosh Rana are competent.
Shot in the bylanes of small town India, the film captures the milieu it is set in aptly. The music is the weakest link and the soaring and melodramatic background score in some portions is distracting. Mulk focusses on some hard-hitting and burning issues, while also highlighting the crucial role that the media and various other channels of information play in disseminating the right news and facts to its citizens. It also brings to fore the other faces of terrorism which often gets brushed under the carpet.