Malaal movie cast: Meezan Jaffrey, Sharmin Segal, Ankush Bisht
Malaal movie director: Mangesh Hadawale
Malaal movie rating: One and a half star
Malaal, the remake of a Tamil hit, spends most of its running time in a Mumbai chawl of the late 90s. In that pre-historic pre-cellphone, writing-soppy-notes-to-each-other era, a youthful romance may have had good reason to take it slow.
But the pace at which things develop between debutant pair Shiva (Jaffrey) and Aastha (Segal) is slower than a snail. The first half is about the standard getting together of chalk-and-cheese: he is an idle-layabout, who whiles away time in dance bars and card games and beating people up; she is an ace student, studying to clear her CA exams.
The second half is more of the same. The pushes and pulls of being from different communities, Shiva, a Marathi manoos, Aastha, a girl from Bihar (we know this because she comes bearing a plate of ‘litti’, duh) and from a different class, he is the son of a bad-tempered blue collar worker and an impossibly sunny-natured mother, she is the daughter of a well-to-do couple fallen on bad days, are blunted by the loud melodrama, and high-pitched delivery.
Going by Hadawale’s Marathi debut Tingya, the heart-warming story of a little boy and his beloved bull, this should have been a much better film. Sadly, Malaal is nothing but a series of warmed-over clichés which only a talented pair could have refreshed. Neither Meezan (Javed Jaffery’s son) nor Sharmin Segal (Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s niece) are pleasant enough, she with more spark than he, but they do not have impact.
The bustling life of a chawl is authentic but over-familiar from a zillion iterations. The good-for-nothing male is entitled enough to put his stamp on the young woman: yeh meri hai, he declares, and everyone else backs off. Meanwhile, said young woman vacillates between a rich suitor and the unsuitable boy with little conviction. Some forgettable songs-and-dances pop up here and there. And the end is a hurried twist.
We are left with this burning question, in the absence of a young couple setting the screen ablaze: just why was this film made?