Mumbaikar isn't something you want to add to your weekend binge list because of its unsettling execution.
The story follows three individuals, all with Mumbai roots, as they search for meaning in their daily lives. Their lives become intertwined as the tension, comedy, and romance rise to a crescendo. Where do they see themselves going from here?
We have seen movies where Mumbai is a character, but the way Mumbaikar has shown it, I don't think the city would have signed the offer. Santosh Sivan, the renowned cinematographer, helmed the Hindi remake of the Tamil film Maanagaram, which served as Lokesh Kanagaraj's directorial debut. With Mumbaikar, he returned to directing a Hindi film after 15 long years.
The film revolves around three men whose lives cross paths on one fine night when a child kidnapping goes wrong. Vijay Sethupathi, who makes his Hindi movie debut with Mumbaikar (not the right film for his grand debut, for sure), is seen as a "don in the making" who visits Mumbai to join a gang. He mistakenly kidnaps the son of a dreaded gangster, PKP (Ranvir Shorey). This leads to many hurdles, which last for two nights or so in the city.
However, the runtime of the film is about two hours, which would have taken me two days to complete too. Mumbaikar starts abruptly, only to have each of them say dialogues that have stereotyped the city. Terms like "sulaimaani keeda", "jamaila", or having vada pav as a favourite are thrown around randomly only to set the precedent that, oh, this film is based out of Mumbai.
As it's a hyperlink story, there are two other major characters, played by Vikrant Massey and Hridhu Haroon, who also cross paths, only to make things more complicated and bizarre. In Maanagaram, bringing all these characters together feels like there's a story ahead to tell and how it will be tackled. However, Mumbaikar loses it then and there, as the whole set-up looks so caricaturish that you can't even figure out what's happening. The execution here is the biggest drawback, given that you have good talents like Sethupathi, Vikrant, Ranvir Shorey, and even Sanjay Mishra in the film.
The dialogue is from Amit Joshi and Aradhana Sah's script, and Himanshu Singh wrote the screenplay. Even actors who mouth these dialogues look out of place.
Haroon, who plays Adil, is seen as someone who visits Mumbai from his village to work in a BPO. He talks about how he is looking forward to city life given that his native place has peace but lacks money and opportunities. After giving a monologue about enjoying Mumbai, goons beat him up and took his phone and bag, which also contained his certificates.
On the other hand, Vikrant is seen as someone aspiring to be a cop but leading a carefree life. Tanya Maniktala, who plays his ladylove and works as HR at the BPO where Adil conducts the interview, is not pleased with this. Oh, yes, that's one of the links.
There's no right way to say it, but Mumbaikar has no depth and no charm that can make you sit through the film for two hours. There's a lack of everything in the movie, and at one point in time, I felt like I was watching a South Indian film dubbed in Hindi, as the template was no different. The Mumbai captured over the years in films got lost in translation in this one.
Coming to performances, it's not the Hindi movie debut you would expect from a talented star like Vijay Sethupathi. It feels good to say that his overall Hindi debut was the web series Farzi, which came out earlier this year. Although his character Munnu has all the quirks of an amateur gangster, there's a charm missing that the actor couldn't shoulder throughout the film. A total waste of talent, unfortunately.
Vikrant is not having that great of a year, it seems. Starting with Gaslight, the actor has been delivering an underwhelming performance, which is quite unlike him. The actor had a decently interesting character but failed to bring anything good that matched its potential. There's an unnecessary loudness in his character that brings down the whole vibe of the film, which even didn't start right in the first place.
Hridhu Haroon, who is relatively newer in the lot, has more screen time than the rest as he is the one whose character shifts its base to Mumbai. However, his accent seems like he has migrated from the South, but his character is actually from Uttar Pradesh. Well, there goes the inconsistency. The actor makes a slightly good impression but is not impactful, which is wholly because of the writing.
Other actors, namely Sanjay Mishra, Ranvir Shorey, and Tanya Maniktala, have little to offer and don't help the story in any way. They are mere catalysts with no impact.
Santosh Sivan, who has earlier helmed Hindi films, namely Asoka (2001) and Tahan (2008), has brought a story that is unlike his way of storytelling. Having great eyes to capture the best, the filmmaker-cinematographer failed miserably with Mumbaikar.
Mumbaikar has all the elements that could have made for a good film, from decent actors to being a remake. But even without any course correction and poor execution, the film is just not what you want to add to your weekend binge list.