Film Review: Mausam

Directed by: Pankaj Kapur

Starring: Shahid Kapoor, Sonam Kapoor, Anupam Kher, Supriya Pathak

WARNING: Contains spoilers, if you do not wish to know what happens, please revisit after seeing the film. Thanks!

All images courtesy of: http://mausam-thefilm.com/press.html

Sometimes, when a film release gets pushed forward, it can be a good thing – an extra week for promotions, less competition at the box office and for the avid film fan, some breathing space that allows one to catch up with multiple releases and stay ahead of the pack. But that extra week can also prove an ominous sign – as I found out last year with Anjaana Anjaani which also had its release pushed forward – I was super excited about the film but that extra week killed any kindness I had and AA was simply not worth the wait. Furthermore, it was trumped by the Hollywood release I had gone to see in its place (which in this case was The Town). So when I had  a sense of déjà vu for Mausam which was preponed, things did not bode well. So, in place of Mausam, I saw Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy which I really enjoyed and I even managed to squeeze in a screening of Drive (which I fell for big time – totally my kind of film) so that when I went to see Mausam, all the bad ju-ju would be gotten rid of and there wasn’t any pressure for the film to be spectacular.

Sadly, that extra week killed my kindness again – I found Mausam to be a massive disappointment. The film is like a tightly coiled spring that starts off compact and on target but as it uncoils, goes haywire and literally loses the plot. In fact, as I reflected on the film I couldn’t work out whether it was the script, the editing or the performances that were Mausam’s  Achilleus heel; the script sets up the premise well but then seems to go through an identity crisis, from love story, to abstract with a bit of social commentary and entertainment thrown in for good measure. I also felt the running time was far too long and a judicious rewrite followed by stringent editing would have made for a much stronger film. Finally (and controversially), I felt the casting of Sonam Kapoor also proved a hinderance (more on that later).

That is not to say Mausam is completely awful – not only does it boast of an amazing soundtrack but the cinematography is fantastic as is the start of the film which is based in Punjab – in fact, that portion sets up a template that the rest of the film could have and should have followed. Furthermore, there are some wonderful moments of comedy, romance and emotion which if the script had been stronger, would have bolstered the film up but instead, these are more by accident than by design. Styling wise, I loved Shahid’s Punjabi-esque look of cable knit tanks/sweaters over long kurtas and slim jeans teamed with Punjabi jootis (not least because that is my outfit of choice for Lodhi and any autumn/winter event I can wear it too) whilst Sonam’s pistachio coloured sari and black ballet dress with braiding at the front also caught my eye too.

Performance wise, Sonam was a massive disappointment for me. Yet again, she has a role with scope to perform but seems more concerned with what she is wearing than actually emoting and acting. Though there was the odd scene that she showed a glimmer of potential, I didn’t really empathise with her character and felt she sleepwalked her way through it. I really think had a new girl or another actress would have made this a different film which is harsh but with her contemporaries like Katrina Kaif upping their game, Sonam isn’t up to standard and needs to seriously turn in a credible performance or may find herself out of season faster than quick drying nail polish. I was also gutted that Anupam Kher and Supriya Pathak were reduced to glorified cameos (which they still managed to infuse with class and gravitas) and did not have more to do.

Thank god then for Shahid Kapoor who is the saving grace of the film – throwing everything and the kitchen sink at the role, he really does bring the character of Harry to life as well as showing enormous range as an actor. From a young boy in love to the heartbroken air force officer as well as in that wonderful scene in the fairground at the end, Shahid is on top form and really makes the most of this role. But unfortunately, this comes at a price; rather than allowing Shahid to shine alongside the merits of the film, Shahid unknowingly becomes the main attraction and the script quite simply is unable to cater for providing him with a worthy showcase. But that he still impresses speaks volumes of his star power and hopefully, Shahid’s next few projects will utilise him correctly like Jab We Met and Kaminey did, so that his appeal goes beyond his fan base.

I really wanted to like Mausam. I was really surprised that the film didn’t make more of the whole seasons theme (which seemed to be forgotten) and wish it had. But sadly, like Anjaana Anjaani, it was the Hollywood and British film offerings (Drive and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) that won my heart over instead. Still, Mausam deserves to be applauded for its high points and one hopes the next time a film has to be preponed, history won’t repeat itself…

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