10 February 2018

Bombay High: Yashwant Chittal's Shikari

My review of Yashwant Chittal's classic novel Shikari, translated from the Kannada by Pratibha Umashankar-Nadiger:

Pratibha Umashankar-Nadiger's long overdue English translation makes it clear why Shikari, originally published in 1979, is perhaps acclaimed Kannada writer Yashwant Chittal's best-known novel. Offbeat and absorbing, it provides a stirring portrait of urban Bombay, and a rare insight into Indian corporate life under the Licence Permit Raj.
Chittal's narrator Nagappa (often modernised to Nagnath, and further to Nag) was born, like the author, in a village called Hanehalli in Karnataka's Uttara Kannada, and his memories often take him back there. But it is in the Bombay bylanes of Khetwadi, Prarthana Samaj, Charni Road, Grant Road, Chowpatty and Dhobi Talao that the novel unfolds -- largely on foot, with Nagappa's distracted meanderings often guiding his thoughts. Passing the Communist Party press reminds him of health hazards at his company's Hyderabad factory; buying the Times of India sets him dreaming of an alternative life as a news-stall-owner. He responds to urban stimuli like an automaton: buying a bus ticket to Worli makes him realize he is going to see his friend Sitaram.

Together with Shantinath Desai and Jayant Kaikini, Chittal formed a triad of post-independence Kannada writers for whom Bombay defined urbanity. A superb new translation of Kaikini's Bombay stories, under the title No Presents Please, came out in November 2017. Shikari is Chittal's big Bombay novel, and his fine-grained observations feel like an ode to its streets, even when its narrator is at his most anxious. But the familiarity of the chawl and the neighbourhood, Chittal suggests, can turn into oppressive social surveillance. And economic rise does not guarantee belonging: neither Nag nor his bete noire Shrinivasa are confident of retaining their social status.

If Shikari is presciently pessimistic about urban alienation, it is downright depressing on the inner life of the corporation. Despite a century and a half of industrial modernity, the white-collar workplace isn't a frequent Indian literary setting: off the top of my head, I think of Krishna Sobti's Yaaron Ke Yaar (1968) and Amitabha Bagchi's The Householder (2012), both vivid portraits of corruption in government offices. Shikari is about corporate intrigue in a Bombay world that feels contemporary in some ways – say, its liberal use of jargon like MD, DMD, R&D – but not in others: the only women in Nagappa's working world are secretaries, receptionists or airhostesses, who are either Parsi, Anglo-Indian or Goan Christian.

Shikari references Kafka's The Trial on page one, and yes, both books contain an unspecified crime and erotically charged encounters with most of the female characters. But Nagappa's paranoia also brings to mind Bob Slocum, the manager narrator of Joseph Heller's 1974 novel Something Happened, for whom, too, the office is a space of dread. The relentless mutual suspicion that forms the matrix of Shikari, though, is informed by sexual hypocrisy and naked appeals to caste and community. The transparency of those factors in this supposedly modern white-collar milieu makes this a tragically Indian classic.

An edited version of this review was published in India Today, 9 Feb 2018.

9 February 2018

The fictions of filmdom

My Mirror column:

Rahi Masoom Raza's biting 1977 novel Scene 75 is a brutally frank and funny account of the Bombay film industry -- and of our need to tell stories.

“Ali Amjad was saying that they should take Rajendra Kumar. Harish was saying that Rajendra Kumar was a fool. He didn't know how to act... Slowly their voices grew louder. Harish Rai was the director. Ali Amjad the writer... VD said, 'There's a new boy. Rajesh Khanna. You'll get him cheap...”

Four decades after it was first published, Rahi Masoom Raza's marvellous novel Scene 75 – just out in Poonam Saxena's pacy new English translation – can still plunge us headlong into the hectic, gossipy universe of Bombay filmdom. Raza's prose has the infectious quality of the born raconteur, somehow managing to combine circuitous, detailed backstories with new characters introduced -- and parted from -- at breakneck speed.

But unlike say, Ismat Chughtai's Ajeeb Aadmi -- a rather thinly disguised version of the unhappy Guru Dutt-Geeta Dutt-Waheeda Rehman triangle -- Raza does not place us at what we might think of the centre of the action. Yes, big names are dropped with elan, but it is not their lives that Scene 75 wants us to enter.

Real-life stars, producers, character actors, from Asha Parekh and Sanjeev Kumar to David and Manmohan Krishna, only provide the matrix of instant credibility for Raza's fictional protagonists, who are people on the fringes of the industry: aspiring screenwriters, starlets on the make, housewives desperate to wrangle film premiere invitations.

This is the seamy underbelly of Bollywood, fed on crumbs dropped by the rich and famous. Sometimes these crumbs are literal, like the supposedly jinxed royal bed from the set of a film called Adle-Jahangir that becomes the centrepiece of the flat shared by the book's four struggling friends -- or the transparent nightie deemed too small for Hema Malini that makes its way to Radhika, wife of the failing screenwriter Phandaji, and practically changes her life.

More often, though, they are tidbits of information that offer access to the filmi duniya. Scene 75 derives much of its juiciness from the interactions between various classes of hangers-on, who have different degrees of this access, and most of whom are pretending to have more than they actually do. So, for instance, we have the grave, revolutionary VD acquiring new skills of deception when it comes to showing a young Anglo-Indian woman called Rosy dreams of a future as heroine: 'Today BR Chopra made a pukka commitment to give you a break in his next film. And Nasir Husain said, “Bring her over right now, I want to sign her for my next film.” But he makes such escapist films. I won't let you work there...' VD's friends – particularly the book's central protagonist Ali Amjad, who seems partly modelled on Raza himself -- are upset with his bald-faced lies. 'Why are you showing the poor thing these false dreams?' Ali Amjad demands to know. VD's answer is a counterquestion that really has no answer: 'But why does she see them?' 

Why does she, indeed? Scene 75, especially as it moves towards its tragic denouement, emerges as a book full of cynical truths, truths which it would be unfair to describe as takedowns because they don't seem to contain malice (even when, as with the book's many lesbian characters, they bear the burden of prejudice).

But even as Raza's humour transitions from dark to pitch black, and his heroes mock themselves for their loss of idealism, I had the impression that Raza could not entirely condemn his fantasising characters. Because he understood their need for fiction.

That need for fiction appears over and over again in the book – whether in Bholanath Khatak's desire to make his wife Rama dress like Waheeda, or in journalist Pancharan Mishra turning of the cook-turned-screenwriter Ramnath into Ramanathan, complete with a detailed life-story.

“Because of his father's sudden death, Ramanathan had been unable to take his MA exam. The memory of his university days still filled Ramanathan with sadness. The glory of those tennis lawns, the revelries of the drama club...” “Everyone knew it was lies,” writes Raza. “But everyone had had similar things written about them, so no one bothered to check the truth.”

Earlier in the book, we encounter the wonderful Mai's Adda, where everyone from Sahir Ludhianvi to Raj Kapoor had drunk alcohol and eaten fried fish on credit. Fiction here runs like a rich vein through fact; if you cut off the supply of make-believe, it might kill us.

“Whenever one of her debtors became famous, Mai would hang his photograph in her adda and talk about him as if he were her own son...” When D'Souza buys up Mai's Adda, he lets Mai masquerade as if she is still the actual owner. Then when the real Mai dies, people can't quite adjust to life without a Mai -- so they begin to call Mrs. D'Souza 'Mai'. That desperate desire to keep up appearances is also at the crux of Ali Amjad's titular Scene 75, in which a character called Abulkhair's mother is dictating a letter to a munshi at a streetcorner. “Everyone is unwell. Why are you making me say that everything is all right?” says the munshi.

This then, might be the truth at the heart of Scene 75, and perhaps Raza's comment on our cinematic fantasies: When is a lie not simply a lie? When it's what we need to believe to live.

Published in Mumbai Mirror, 4 Feb 2018.

7 February 2018

Recasting Tagore

My review of the play Her Letters: Qissa Kothi's Hindi adaptation of Tagore's story 'Streer Patra'

Indian artists tend to treat the celebrated work of Rabindranath Tagore with kid gloves. But in adapting the master's 1914 Bengali short story Streer Patra, the Mumbai-based collective Qissa Kothi has taken a bold, and mostly successful, approach.
Tagore's tale is a first-person narrative, framed as a letter in which a woman explains, with quiet resolve, why she has left home. But in playwright-director Sharmistha Saha's able hands, it becomes an intense two-person performance in Hindi, Her Letters, which comes to Mumbai's Kala Ghoda Festival on February 5 after performances in New Delhi last month.
"To Thine Auspicious Lotus Feet", Mrinal's letter begins, marking the abyss of inequality between an Indian wife and her husband. Few women would use such an expression today. But even a century later, candour and reflectiveness like Mrinal's rarely emerge from the confines of a marriage. For her marital household, she was only Mejo Bou, 'Middle Daughter-in-law', a label she cannot squeeze herself into any longer. It's taken 15 years, writes Mrinal, but she has finally realised that she has other relationships: "with the world and the World-Keeper".
The terrifying familiarity of Mrinal's epiphany says everything about why 'Streer Patra' still works. No man's path to selfhood has ever been dependent on his marital status. But wifehood still defines women-enshrined in religious ideology, in social behaviour, in our very language. Think of the Hindi word suhaag, for instance. The state of being married is ostensibly neutral, but really only implicates women. A man's body, like his mind, need never be marked by marriage: no bindi, sindoor, mangalsutra or kangans. There is no male equivalent of the category 'suhaagan'.
That category takes unspoken centre stage here, politically and aesthetically. Markers of suhaag, a tulsi plant, a gota-edged dupatta, a red bangle-dominate the stage design. The atmosphere is redolent with the sights and smells of traditional Hindu domesticity, its sensory excess deliberately suffocating. A brass diya is lit and blown out; marigolds are crushed in a closed fist; spices are ground on a stone. Actors Manisha Mondal and Bharati Perwani wear the richest of crimson saris, using their yards of silken sheen alternately to suggest unravelling and bondage, eroticism and blood.
Given the reverence with which Tagore is treated, Saha's confident adaptation is noteworthy. She leaves out lines, weaves in the voices of Virginia Woolf and Amrita Pritam, and calls the play Her Letters rather than 'The Wife's Letter'. But its animating force remains the unnamed, unnameable relationship between Mrinal and Bindu, a young girl she takes under her wing and who, in turn, adores her. As in Tagore's tale, Mrinal's husband remains a distant cipher. The greatest irony of all this wifeliness is how little her husband has touched her soul.

30 January 2018

Finding Our Freedom

On 30 January 1948, Gandhi was assassinated for trying to stop the killing of Muslims in the new Hindu-majority nation. Seventy years later, Lalit Vachani's documentary might help us look at ourselves in the mirror.

A still from Lalit Vachani's documentary film, The Salt Stories (2008).
On 13 January 1948, distressed by ongoing violence against Muslims in the capital of the free nation for which he had struggled his whole life, Gandhi began what would be his last political fast. On 18 January, a Central Peace Committee – including members of the RSS, the Jamiat-ul-Ulema and Sikh organisations -- came to him with a declaration that said “we shall protect the life, property and faith of Muslims and that the incidents that have taken place in Delhi will not happen again”. Gandhi agreed to break his fast. Two days later, on 20 January 1948, a Punjabi refugee called Madan Lal threw a bomb at him during his prayer meeting at Birla House in Delhi. The device exploded a little away from Gandhi – luckily, no one was killed. Gandhi continued his work, holding meetings and talking to visitors, including angry Hindu refugees.

On 26 January, at his prayer meeting, Gandhi spoke of his sorrow at what the first few months of freedom had been like. He hoped, however, that the worst was over, and that Indians would work for the equality of all communities and creeds – “never the domination and superiority of the majority community over a minor...”. Four days later, on 30 January 1948, he was shot dead.His two most influential followers, Vallabhbhai Patel and Jawaharlal Nehru, responded with grief and resolve. Nehru appealed to Indians to stand against “that terrible poison of communalism that has killed the greatest man of our age”. “We did not follow him while he was alive; let us at least follow his steps now he is dead,” said Patel, appealing to people to carry his message of love and non-violence.

Seventy years after Gandhi's assassination, we are a country that has not just forgotten his message but turned actively towards that of his murderer. Nathuram Godse's stated reason for killing Gandhi was his “constant and consistent pandering to the Muslims”. That destructive falsehood has now become the common sense of our time.

Among the few films that have caught our devastating transformation on camera is Lalit Vachani's 2008 documentary The Salt Stories. Looking for Gandhi in Narendra Modi's Gujarat, Vachani decided to follow the route of the 1930 Salt March, when Gandhi walked 390 km from the Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad to the coastal village of Dandi. There thousands would peacefully break a colonial law that barred Indians from making their own salt. Among Vachani's first stops is the village of Navagam, where he meets a self-proclaimed old Gandhian. He speaks admiringly of Gandhi's role in social reform. Then, having ascertained that there are no “Mohammedans” in Vachani's crew, the 'Gandhian' proceeds to describe the Muslim community as “raakshas”.

A dismayed Vachani moves on to Dabhan, where Gandhi caused a stir by bathing at a Harijan well. The well has been built over; it is now part of a woman's house. Her first reaction is to deny any knowledge of Gandhi's visit. When one old lady says she remembers her grandfather telling her of it, the woman snaps: “Were you there? Then stop your jabbering.” It takes some reassuring from the filmmaker for her to express her fears openly – when Vachani said he had come on Gandhi Kooch, she was instantly worried that her house would be torn down. Now she changes her tune. “I feel fortunate that I live on the place where Gandhi bathed. It's as if my home is in his heart. But if my house is broken down, what will I do?”

Across the road from the Harijan settlement was a dharamshala where Gandhi had stayed the night. Now a Patel function is in progress there. “We broke the old place down and made a Party Plot,” a man tells Vachani. The filmmaker's enquiries appear to have led two men to bring in a stone plaque on which the fact of Gandhi's 1930 visit is engraved. It looks like it might be a slab from the old building, a building that no longer exists.

Vachani's journey proceeds, acquiring a droll tenor as he encounters a series of Gandhi temples with oddly deformed depictions of Gandhi. At all these supposed shrines, the Mahatma is locked away behind bars, cobwebbed or broken, quite clearly never visited. In Surat, where Gandhi had his largest public meeting during the Dandi March, no one has any memory of the event. But the park is host to the Mahatma Gandhi Laughing Club, whose waves of terrifying hysterical laughter break upon a silent statue of Gandhi.

Earlier in the film, Vachani stops to chat with a group of teenaged boys outside a temple. Modi is their favourite leader, they tell him, and what he did was a good thing. Why, asks Vachani. Because the Hindu religion lived in fear before, comes the instant reply. “And now, do the Muslims live in fear?” asks Vachani. “Yes, they are scared. They fear,” comes the reply. “And do you think fear is a good thing?” Vachani asks. “Yes,” say the boys. “Someone or other must always feel fear.”

That is the distance that India has travelled from Gandhi. It's a long road back – and many may never want to walk it. But for those who do, perhaps we can start by ensuring that our definition of courage is not to make others feel afraid.

Published in Mumbai Mirror, 28 Jan 2018.

24 January 2018

Up in the Clouds

My Mirror column:

Soumitra Chatterjee, who turned 83 on 19 January, should be counted among the greatest Indian actors ever, and Mrinal Sen’s Akash Kusum among his most memorable roles.

The great actor Soumitra Chatterjee turned 83 on 19th January, last Friday. If you're thinking “Soumitra, who?”, you've been missing out, and this is as good a time as any to remedy that situation.

Born in 1935, Soumitra made his cinematic debut in Satyajit Ray's Apur Sansar (The World of Apu, 1959), the final film in the Apu Trilogy, coming after Pather Panchali and Aparajito. He went on to become Ray's go-to hero. Their long collaboration spanning fourteen films, from certified early masterpieces like Devi (1960) and Charulata (1964), right down to the end of Ray's career with Ganashatru (1989) and Shakha Proshakha (1990).

He was also Ray's choice when the director decided to make films based on his mystery stories featuring the detective Pradosh Mitter, better known as Feluda.

Soumitra didn't just embody Feluda in the films – Sonar Kella (The Golden Fortress, 1974) and Joi Baba Felunath (1979) – he also informed Ray's sketches of Feluda in the stories Ray wrote in the 70s. As Feluda, Soumitra was urbane, confident and extremely knowledgable, making him a sort of unspoken role model -- not just for Topshe, his younger cousin, assistant in detection and narrator of the stories, but for the generations of Bengali-reading children who grew up watching him. Especially when juxtaposed against the third member of the mystery-solving team, the comically enthusiastic Lalmohan Ganguli, Feluda was the epitome of sophistication and logic. Feluda was almost never wrong.

In his other films, though, it seems to me that what made Soumitra such an unusual hero was precisely the opposite. Right from his debut film, he seemed able to project onto the screen not just charm and likeability but an inner vulnerability.

Sometimes, as in Apur Sansar, that vulnerability broke through to the surface and overflowed – the grief of losing his wife in childbirth turns the young Soumitra irrationally against his son, and he abandons not just the child but the very idea of home.

In Charulata, his character's weakness remains more at the level of suggestion, while in the underwatched Kapurush-Mahapurush, he is the eponymous 'Kapurush': the coward, a man whose courage fails him.

But the Soumitra performance I want to revisit today is not in a Satyajit Ray film. It is a film made by Mrinal Sen, who is, along with Ritwik Ghatak, one of the trilogy of greats of Bengali art cinema. Akash Kusum (Up in the Clouds, 1965), interestingly released in the same year as Kapurush, starred Soumitra as a young man who, in trying to impress the girl he is courting – a very young and lovely Aparna Sen (credited as Aparna Dasgupta, her maiden name) – spins an entire web of untruths from which he cannot eventually extricate himself.

Soumitra's Ajoy Sarkar is a rare character in Bengali cinema. Unlike the educated young men of the 1960s Bengali middle class, on screen and off, Ajoy refuses to join the ranks of jobseekers. He wants, instead, to start a business. The film maps the dubiousness of his particular business venture onto Ajoy's growing fantasy life, with marvellous subtlety.

The lifestyle to which Ajoy aspires seems to him only just outside his grasp. His girlfriend Moni (Aparna) inhabits her wealth with an ease that is to the manner born, and she seems to assume that he, too, is of her world – eg. assuming he'll take a taxi when he says he hasn't got his car one day. Meanwhile his close friend Satu has the flat and job that would, in his alternative universe, be his – so Ajoy simply pretends they are. Soumitra's performance is full of fabulous touches, both in expression and gesture. It's also meta: this is an actor showing us a character who is constantly acting in real life. Asked by Moni whether he is free to watch a film next Wednesday, he makes her wait on the phone while he pretends to consult an imaginary diary. Meeting up with her in a sari shop, he makes the unsolicited offer of buying her one – only to then stage an elaborate charade about having had his pocket picked on the way there. Soumitra captures to perfection both the expansive gestures that seem to constitute Ajoy's vision of himself -- and the stubborn, almost childish, resistance he shows when his friend or his mother try to call him out on his pipe dreams.

Akash Kusum is a fascinating moment in film history for many reasons. Mrinal Sen, having watched Jules et Jim and 400 Blows as part of a package of films from the French Consulate in Bombay in January 1965, adopted from Francois Truffaut stylistic elements that had become integral to the French New Wave: the jump cut, the voiceover, the use of stills and freeze frames.

But Akash Kusum released to a controversial reception in Calcutta, leaving critics and audiences baffled or unimpressed. A war of words about its “topicality” in The Statesman, involving the paper's film critic and the film's writer Ashish Barman, ended with none other than Satyajit Ray attacking the film in brutal terms.

It seems that most viewers condemned Ajoy as an out-and-out conman, and thus undeserving of sympathy. The only way in which the film could redeem itself, said the Statesman’s critic, was by ending on a comic note. They couldn't have been more wrong. The lightness of Soumitra's conman act is integral to the final note of tragedy.

Watching Akash Kusum in 2018, it seems not just topical but prescient in its grasp of a world where there are more and more things, only just beyond one's reach.

Published in Mumbai Mirror, 21 Jan 2018.

15 January 2018

Heart of darkness

With Mukkabaaz, Anurag Kashyap has gone where many might fear to tread, crafting a picture of present day North India whose zingy energy doesn't quite hide its depressing core.

The marvellous Jimmy Shergill as Bhagwan Das Mishra in Mukkabaaz
It would be a mistake to go into Mukkabaaz expecting a sports film. The hero might be desperate to win a boxing championship, but his real battles are not in the ring. For the talented small fish trying to make his way up from the bottom, the entire Indian food chain seems to consist of big fish that want to be fed – or they'll gobble him up. Director Anurag Kashyap seems so keen for us to understand this that he makes his Shravan Kumar pretty much invincible as a boxer: the self-proclaimed Mike Tyson of Uttar Pradesh knows he can beat all his opponents – and after a while, so do we.

So while the film's many boxing scenes are painstakingly crafted: taut, grimy, often gripping, all the drama in Mukkabaaz lies outside them. And the stage for it to unfold are the bylanes of Bareilly: a town that seems to have truly arrived in the country's cinematic imagination, with Kashyap close on the heels of 2017's Bareilly ki Barfi and Babumoshai Bandookbaaz. With Mukkabaaz the fictive possibilities of the contemporary UP small town are exploited in the best way -- by hewing as close to the headlines as its characters' realities will allow, and then digging underneath them for unvarnished truths that aren't seen as fit to print.

Much of the unprintable is spoken by the man who can only be called the film's villain: the superb Jimmy Shergill as the boxing-coach-cum-bahubali who plays God in this universe, acting under the deliberate name of Bhagwan Das Mishra. And much of it revolves around caste. “Sauda toh kar nahi rahe,” says Bhagwan in one scene. “Brahmin hain, aadesh dete hain. [I'm not making a deal here. I'm a Brahmin, I give orders.]” At another crucial juncture, he proposes that Shravan drinks his urine, calling it “amrit”.

Elsewhere, he humiliates a rival coach (Ravi Kissen, doing justice to a rare interesting role) with the pointed question “Sanjay Kumar what? Brahman ho, Kshatriya ho, Kayastha ho, kya?” And when Kumar straightforwardly states his caste as “That fourth jaat that you're unable to even name: Harijan”, Bhagwan makes sure to rub his face in it by calling for a separate water container for the Dalit. Shergill's menacing gaze through rose-tinted spectacles in this scene is a remarkable visual touch: the English metaphor for a too-optimistic view of the world is turned on its head.

Certainly this is not an optimistic film. It almost makes us believe that it is, by handing us an old-style unreconstructed love-at-first-sight narrative between a sad-eyed struggling hero we can root for – the brilliant Vineet Kumar Singh, who is also the originator of the script – as well as a heroine whose muteness thankfully doesn't ever prevent her from having her say (Zoya Hussain, also superb). That illusion is aided by conducting us through their courtship and Shravan's career with Kashyap's usual dizzying energy, with much of the action cut to an immersive, subversive soundtrack and clap-worthy lines crafted out of the everyday wit that the North Indian town uses to cope with its dysfunction. 
This must be the only film in which boxing moves have appeared on screen marvellously in tandem with hiphop at one point and the murkis in a gentle, almost Hindustani classical song at another. But this is an adrenalin high, not meant to be sustainable. This is a world that is, after all, controlled by Bhagwan, who is, in some ways, another version of the petty, power-hungry sarkaari sports official who unmystifyingly recurs in Indian films about sporting underdogs: think of Girish Kulkarni's character in Dangal, or Zakir Hussain's devious Dev in 2016's Saala Khadoos.

But the reason why Jimmy Shergill's Bhagwan seems more frightening than those men is that he represents the dark heart of the New India – which is unfortunately just an emboldened, lawless version of the old.

In an era when a film like Padmavat(i), with what appears to be its overt celebration of 'Rajput' valour and barely-disguised vilification of the meateating Muslim as uncivilised, somehow manages to be identified with courageous filmmaking, Kashyap's fearlessness makes one want to cheer. Mukkabaaz's fictional depiction of how gau-raksha and the spectre of beef are used to shut down inconvenient voices is both chilling and entirely credible. There is also another long-drawn sequence in which caste plays an overt role, and here it is an OBC character – a Yadav, to be precise – who decides to rub Shravan's nose in the dirt because he thinks he is Rajput. Kashyap's script leaves a deliberate loophole on the question of Shravan's 'real' caste.

Whatever one one thinks of this script decision, or of the fact that the Yadav character's attempt at caste payback earns him only nasty humiliation, Mukkabaaz deals with our darkest selves, head on. 

This is a world where the most soaring dreams must be dreamt without recourse to the rules of justice or fair play. Dysfunction is assumed, and incorporated into plans. Whether it is expressed in a don harassing a family by sending a henchman to keep cutting off their (permanent) illegal electricity connection (the “katiya” that was at the centre of the documentary Katiyabaaz), or in strategizing how to defeat an opponent whom one knows full well is on steroids but cannot report because the system will not listen, Mukkabaaz depicts a world beyond the hope of law. And in this world, to win can mean losing.

Published in Mumbai Mirror, 13 Jan 2018.