Sabbir Khan’s Munna Michael is a strange film.
In the first scene, a young woman is handling payroll at a Bollywood shoot location. She tells Michael, a senior choreographer, that he is not required on the sets anymore. “Everything has an expiry date, Michael. Now go home and don’t waste my time,” she says rather sharply. Such bitterness in someone so young – it’s curious.
In the next scene, Michael is wandering through the streets of Mumbai. It’s after midnight. Drenched in the pouring rain, he notices a baby shivering in a basket, abandoned by the side of the road. He takes the baby to his house and puts it in his bed, wrapped in the same wet cloth.
These two scenes hint at what’s in store in Munna Michael. Characters’ whose actions aren’t bound by logic. Thoroughly one-note, they follow the bland screenplay with robotic precision. The result is dull and uninspiring.
The film has two men in the lead, Mahinder and Munna, who are foils for each other. The former, played by Nawazuddin Siddiqui, is a self-made man from a village on the outskirts of Delhi. He climbed out of his poverty by intelligently playing the real-estate sector. This 42-year-old can’t speak good English, or dance with minimal grace.
In contrast, Munna (Tiger Shroff) is everything a conventional Bollywood hero ought to be. He is Michael’s adopted son, fair-complexioned, well-educated, and speaks English fluently. He has a six-pack body.
And he can dance.
When the heroine, Dolly, a young model and dancer with aspirations to make it in Bollywood, is asked to choose between these two men, is it hard to predict whom she would pick?
Khan’s movie is about this pure love between two equals – Munna and Dolly, and the unrequited and creepy love of the odd one among the trio, Mahinder.
The plot is cliché-ridden, bearing strong resemblances to Shah Rukh Khan’s 1997 film, Yes Boss, which was in turn a copy of a 1993 Hollywood dud, For Love Or Money. It takes immense courage to rehash a mediocre plot with a stone-faced star kid in the lead.
But Khan’s film is not really about its plot. It is a wannabe MJ tribute, with Tiger breaking into dance every time he sees an opportunity. The dance sequences are impressive, even if the songs used are forgettable.
And this is Shroff’s worthy contribution to the film.
Nidhi Agerwal’s Dolly aka Deepika Sharma is the flattest character in the movie – the type Bollywood has been trying to break away from all decade long. She opens up about herself to Munna and says, “It’s my dream to be a dancer. Then I want to conquer Bollywood.” She continues to mumble with drunken glee, “stardom, photo shoots, endorsements….”
It’s hard to sympathise with a character who dreams like someone in a fairness cream commercial.
A little later, she’s sadly remembering her father, who won’t let her become a dancer. “What is wrong in being a dancer?” she asks Munna with puppy dog eyes. Again, it’s difficult to feel for Dolly’s daddy issues because she is a terrible dancer, judging by the dance sequences in the film.
Siddiqui, though, is such a fantastic actor that he shines even in such a bad movie. He is the sole factor who brings life into an otherwise cold, insensitive film. He effortlessly outshines his co-stars Shroff and Agerwal in their combination scenes. Even his inability to dance only renders him an inspiring character to watch.
All this despite the film treating Mahinder with no sympathy.
For this is a film that inadvertently mirrors the class realities of India, even as it trudges down the regular Bollywood potboiler road. It’s comedy: Siddiqui trying to dance like Tiger Shroff, Siddiqui trying to speak English. The film doesn’t distance itself from both the characters to explore their grey shades and vulnerabilities.
It sides with Munna, the perfect one. And smugly laughs at Mahinder, the foolish, violent rube who has made the mistake of falling in love with a girl way out of his league
Shroff, son of veteran actor Jackie Shroff, said at a promotional event, “Just watching him (Siddiqui) dance was fun. How his body would work, how his body would move.” Hopefully, Siddiqui had similar fun watching Shroff try to act.
The Munna Michael review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the movie. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.