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Mumbai Police Movie Review: Prithviraj breaks the typical 'hero' mold, challenges sexual stereotyping

Exploring a completely different dimension in his latest film Mumbai Police, Director Rosshan Anddrews delivers a fast-paced, thriller film after his award winning fims such as Udayananu Tharam, Notebook and others.



To flesh out the script written by Boby Sanjay, Rosshan Anddrews ropes in actors such as Prithviraj, Rahman and Jayasurya to portray three police officers: Antony Moses, Farhan and Aryan respectively.

The story begins with a phone call that Antony Moses (starring Prithviraj) makes to Farhan (starring Rahman) saying that he has solved the murder mystery of Aryan (starring Jayasurya). Just as he says this, there is an accident and Antony Moses loses his memory. From then, Farhan's attempt is to take Antony through people and places that are likely to trigger his memory so that they can solve the murder of their close friend and colleague Aryan. A series of events happen, almost hurtling us towards it.

 And I am taking the liberty to hand out trophies for the following:

'Mumbai Police' - Brilliant background score by Gopi Sundar

Background score by Gopi Sundar delivers some path breaking moments. There is a fast paced run-chase scene where he majorly uses the notes of a veena alongwith other unlikely accompaniments. It is the kind of score that sends goosebumps on your skin the way it whips up the frenzied mood of the chase with a most beautiful, calming sound to your agitated nerves. Throughout this film, the background score impresses, breaks out of typical filmy molds and succeeds to grab your attention for what it is - a rarity that deserves to be acknowledged. 

'Mumbai Police' - Plays up the Navy vs Police Conflict very well

In this film, the conflict between the Navy personnel and the Kochi cops is played up well. I studied in the Indian Navy's school at Naval Base in Wellingdon Island, Kochi. The conflict between the Navy personnel and the Kochi cops was always apparent. There was an unspoken agreement that if you mess with the Navy personnel or their families, cops would get hit back by the Navy personnel badly. I am not sure but there was a story that is supposedly true (but there is no evidence or report to indicate that is true) was that a girl who was from Naval Base was physically harassed by Kochi cops and the Navy personnel retaliated  in a most brutal way. The buzz that many of us have heard was that the entire police station was ransacked, cops were beaten up and the specific cop was burned alive. No case was ever registered and from that incident, there has been a silent agreement between the Navy and the Cops that Navy territory cannot be interfered with at any cost even if they break the laws. As I said, all of these were Chinese whispers. No concrete evidence but the tensions were always apparent right there on the surface. 

'Mumbai Police' - Prithviraj's most outstanding performance

In Malayam 'new generation' films, a kind of sexual stereotyping is taking place. While the sexual traits of protagonists may interest the readers, many new generation Malayalam films treat 'sex' as the core of their film's substance. This film underplays it in the subtlest way to deliver a shocking blow to the audience towards the end. While I can confirm that a majority of young and old Malayalis are becoming liberal, this bold attempt to break sexual stereotyping of the male protagonist is not likely to be accepted. Trophy goes to Prithviraj who has probably taken the biggest risk in his career by portraying such a role. However, for the first time ever, I felt that Prithviraj as an actor, was totally uncomfortable in the last scenes that show his sexual encounters with his partner. Given the nature of the role, it is inevitable but still unexpected from an accomplished actor such as Prithvi.

Mumbai Police: Tough to connect these dots

1. Misleading title: Mumbai Police is a title that has no significance to the actual sequence of events in this film.

2. Dialogues lacked meaty substance. There’s not a single dialogue except maybe one or two that I can think of that is memorable at the end of the film.

3. Pace of the movie is a baffling. At times the movie is too fast. Then it turns very slow. Again it catapults you back into a fast pace. None of this goes easy on the clueless viewer and does not heighten the suspense or the entertainment quotient of this thriller film.

4. Lack of balance in characterizations. For instance, the roles played by Aparna and Shweta are so woefully short and they are fine actors. It is a mistake to rope in such fine actors and not use them to their full potential. At the same time,  it is appreciable supporting actors like Kunchan got ample opportunity to showcase acting talent through some emotional situations.

Among the three roles, I found Rahman’s most striking. He makes his presence felt and he portrays the role in an outstanding way despite the ridiculous dialogues that are given to him. An actor of his stature deserves better. While Jayasurya gets to play a very critical role throughout the film, somehow I, as an avid movie watcher, did not feel any connect. He was simply himself playing a role. I did not feel that he became the character that he was representing. A poor show from Jayasurya, who is an emerging fine actor with several outstanding performances in movies such as Cocktail and Beautiful.

My Verdict: Go watch this movie. It's going to shake you up, that's for sure. But look at the brighter side: you get to see some outstanding performances.


(Personal Confession: Rosshan Anddrews and I are from the same place - Palluruthy. In fact, we studied in the same school but we have never interacted at a personal level. My father told me that Rosshan Anddrews had inquired about me recently to a cousin of mine who's a friend of his. Secretly, I have to admit being flattered that such a fine film director asked for me! :) 

Another tiny tidbit is this: When Rosshan Anddrews had directed his first film Udayananu Tharam, I loved that film and wrote a detailed review of it on Petals! that was going out to a select group of my friends as a newsletter. From the official site of Mohan Lal that was run by his fans,  I had sent a copy to Mohan Lal and got a reply from Lalettan’s personal email id after two weeks. He wrote in saying that he had read my review, thanked me for it and told me to correspond directly via his personal mail id anytime. Whoa, that was unforgettable! Still a cynical side of me did wonder whether it was all PR generated. But then I thought - it's more important to look at the positive response than at anything else. That’s also when I decided to take Petals! more seriously and change it into a blog rather than a newsletter.)

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Comments

Mélange said…
It's been a refreshing review to read Swapna.Blame me for being prejudiced towards our films,especially if portrayed by certain so called stars."However, for the first time ever, I felt that Prithviraj as an actor," makes me perhaps eager to watch the movie.I am yet to find his 'acting' yaar..Thanks for your time.
@Melange: I know what you mean and thanks for sharing your thoughts here. However, I feel that the overall script, plot and screenplay could have been a lot better and could have fleshed out some of the characters in a much better way. Do watch the film and tell me how you find it. :)
harimohan said…
Swapna
wonderful review ,I liked the breaking down the issues
Roshan andrews was our neighbour great director very down to earth
did u mail Lalettan
tc
Anonymous said…
Prithvirij is the killer of jaysuriya and he loses his memory and Prithvirij is gay and this is a stupid movie
Anonymous said…
Mumbai Police back ground score was a best example for how to directly copy the sound track of the Hollywood movie 'Unstoppable'...... But it became as a nuisance when the score is added to unnecessary scenes... Being a fan of the background score ‘unstoppable’ – ‘Who do I kiss first’, it was really painful to admit that Gopi Sundar had done a good job… Pathetic
@Anonymous: Thanks for pointing this out regarding the sound track I have not watched or heard "Unstoppable" but if that is indeed the score that was copied, then it is not a good sign of an upcoming musician. It still makes me wonder why any upcoming musician would want to do this and ruin his reputation and career at one go...or was it a case of 'inspiration' - one will never know, isn't it?
Anonymous said…
hahha so pathethic miserable ass...Anonymous!!
Anonymous said…
I agree with u didn't like the movie at all. Totally waste of time.
Anonymous said…
it is a nice movie till the last 15 minutes of the movie, then it become a stupid movie. total disappointment.
B T Mathai said…
Good Blog. I think I will visit here often.
I agree on most your thought on 'Mumbai Police'. Especially of some of those amateurish dialogues and the understated performance of Rahman. I thought of the same on his performance in Kerala Cafe. Although I wish he would voice his own dialogues in malayalam movies, because it is waay better than the voice he is using in the movies.

Since Roshan Andrewws is from your place and that lalettan reads your blog and there is a chancethat Roshan Andrewws reads this blog and hopefully this comment, I would like to know some more of Prithiviraj's character. Or maybe his thoughts on Prithiviraj's sexual orientation.
In the beginning of the movie, Antony Moses asks Farhan for a cigarette. This is a very biological need for a smoker inspite of him losing his memory. Didnt Antony Moses have any curiosity regarding this sexual orientation? Did he decide to be gay when he didnt lose his memory? I ask this because upon finding of his sexual partner, he was terrified and wept upon finding that truth(not because that was a realization of act of killing his friend - that came afterwards)
Aryan stated that as a crime. I hope the timeline of the movie was before 2009, because it was decriminalized after June 2009
Mister Vinster said…
Hey Swapna,

Gotta agree: this was one of the most refreshing Malayalam movies I've seen in ages. And not just because of the exploration of LGBT themes. I mean, such a risk-taking mentality really should be appreciated, but Rosshan Andrrews, being the wonderful director he is, merely made the first move on the road to that particular eventual inevitability. What really got me is the crispness of the script. Bobby-Sanjay have undoubtedly outdone themselves, and the subtlety displayed in the movie clearly shows that the duo strives to meticulously etch real-world observations onto paper, rather than heralding celebrity fantasies with other-worldly dialogue and under-budgeted special effects.

I love how Prithviraj is finally letting the character sink within himself rather than superficially portraying it. Although he has quite a few more areas to improve when it comes to acting, it's obvious that he's trying, and the results are getting significantly better and better.

Although the movie isn't perfect in way, the movie is original, and easily retains its sense of identity. It's a perfect stepping stone for Malayalam filmmakers in the future to make movies that are carefully grounded and yet manage to grab the stars up above.
Anonymous said…
Very nice review. I agree that actors like Shwetha had a very minimal role and should have been utilized more.

The movie started out as wonderful. But the ending was disappointing. The charm of the whole movie was lost towards the end and left a bad taste in the mouth. On top, I was watching it with my 12 year old. The scenes with his boyfriend were so sudden and shocking that I was scrambling for a remote to stop the movie.

Will keep coming for more of your reviews.

Rakesh Menon said…
Nice Review Swapna ! Just saw the movie and read your reviews.This one was uncomfortably different and Prithvi takes a bold step.
@Rakesh Menon: Good to know that you watched this film. It's perhaps the boldest ever step taken by any Malayalam actor
@BT Mathai: Thanks for stopping by to read this blogpost. You mentioned a pertinent point relating to characterization - it hadn't crossed my mind before. Good to see different views on this film. Hope to see you here more often.
@Anonymous: It's becoming increasingly tough to take children for Malayalam movies because of the adult content. The only suggestion I can put forward is that: you can check out with friends or read more film reviews before taking kids to watch the film. I face the same dilemma as you do. So I read several reviews and check with friends before I go to a theater to watch any movie. Thanks for stopping by and for commenting here.
@Vinister: Thanks for sharing your thoughts in such detail. I really appreciate it. I look forward to more such interactions here.
@Harimohan: Thanks for reading it and commenting on it, Hari Uncle.
Anonymous said…
The movie is a poor attempt at expecting a positive response by latching on to the shock factor.
Anonymous said…
i just felt the urge to post this comment right now after seeing this movie in surya tv.
As my friend told me it was a good movie ,i was eager to watch it.I compelled my parents to sit with me and watch the movie. The movie was going in a fantastic manner,we were enjoying it.Whether it was background(i dont care if its copied)or the brilliant performance by actors ,everything was going fine till the last scene.You should have seen the look on my parents face.Eventhough it was climax they told to change the channel.
Now how do I ,a 20 yr old sit with his parent and watch these so called "new generation"movies. MAlayalam cinema is at its worst timeperiod ever.Where are movies like Narasimham ,Meesa Madhavan,Thevasuram,swapnakudu,killukam,mithunam so many...those were golden times where a family can go to theatres and watch these movies even with a five yr old. You dont know how i am feeling right now. I dont think i will ever watch these new malayalam movies again with my parents.
@Anonymous: I understand how embarrassing the experience must have been for you. As a parent, I find it very difficult to go for Malayalam movies with my son or my parents because the content of our movies has become very adult-like. Gone are the days when an entire family comprising of parents, uncles, aunts and cousins can go together to watch a Malayalam movie. Is that a sign of positive change and cultural maturity - we don't know at this point of time. But the signal is clear: there is change in the way we are approaching movie making. My only suggestion is that before watching movies with kids or parents, it may help to check the reviews first. I do that always so that I can take a call whether to take my son or not. That helps to a great extent to free one self from embarrassing situations.
Anonymous said…
Stupid meaningless story. .think director got confused
Binu said…
Swapna,please try to get any other job.

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