Director Anees Bazmee specializes in a genre that I call 'cinema as lobotomy'. His films are generously labeled entertainers. Which means that they are incoherent, loud, lowbrow. We are told dimaag nikaal ke dekho or come to the theatre brain-dead. Some leave permanent scars – I still remember the depressed exhaustion I felt after watching No Problem in which the climax hinges on a gorilla farting.
I'm happy to report that Mubarakan does not sink to these depths. This film has more narrative that the usual Bazmee film. There is an attempt at telling a story and creating emotion. The characters have some texture – not the leading ladies though, who redefine the term decoration – I think Athiya Shetty says four lines in the first half. But they do wear nice clothes. The only female actor who makes an impression is Ratna Pathak Shah who plays the arrogant matriarch of the family.
The truth is that when the bar is so low, better is still bad.
I won't even attempt to give you a gist of the story – it involves the twins, Charan and Karan, both played by Arjun Kapoor, their girlfriends, their warring foster parents and their cool bachelor uncle Kartar Singh who complicates the situation and eventually saves the day. The action moves between shopping malls in London and gardens in Punjab.
There are misunderstandings, lies, disguises. There is also chest-thumping, dancing, drinking and shouting. Kartar Singh is such a true-blue son of the soil that even in London, he's got a field with a tractor and manji. Nobody talks. Everyone screams.
The best thing here is Anil Kapoor. His Punjabi-British accent and cheerfully foolish expression is endearing. He brings energy to the chaos. But the writers don't give him enough to work with. Can you believe there were 4 on this film – Rupinder Chahal and Balwinder Singh Janjua for story, Gurmmeet Singh and Balwinder again for screenplay and Rajesh Chawla for dialogue. The gags are too few and too limp. One involves a character gargling loudly as a conversation takes place.
Mubarakan also places too much responsibility on the shoulders of Arjun Kapoor. He is in almost every frame and not as one character but two. Arjun works hard to give the twins an individuality but neither the writing nor the acting makes an impact. The soft-spoken, scared Charan is slightly more interesting than Karan, whose gelled, upright hair could give Syndrome from The Incredibles a complex.
Toward the end of the film, Karan asks Kartar – aap thake nahi ho abhi tak? I wanted to tell him that I didn't just get exhausted in the two and a half hours that it took for Karan and Charan to find their partners. I've aged. You know how corporate jobs come with an entertainment allowance? This job needs a botox allowance.