Directed by Pankaj Kapur. Starring Shahid Kapoor, Sonam Kapoor, Supriya Pathak, Aditi Sharma, Anupam Kher, Manoj Pahwa.
Over-ambitious, contrived and forced, Mausam is not the epic romance film that Bollywood lovers have been craving for.
There was a time when epic romances and melodrama were Bollywood’s signature genre. Societal pressures, circumstances and misunderstandings conspired to keep the lovers apart but the lovers overcame all obstacles and love triumphed, sometimes even at the cost of the lovers sacrificing their lives. That was before Bollywood became cool, hep and irreverent. Somewhere in the process of making itself contemporary, Bollywood was robbed off its old-world romantic charm. Wise-cracks replaced nuanced gestures and all subtleties were lost. Mausam was expected to set that right and put the romance back on the marquee.
Touted as an epic romance across two decades, Mausam was expected to revive the epic romance genre just as films like Ghajini, Dabangg and Singham have revived the masala potboiler genre, another old Bollywood staple. Instead, this film comes across as utter tripe, lacking both soul and substance that are essential for a great romantic film.
Pankaj Kapur, one of the most respected actors in Bollywood, seems to have mixed his priorities in choosing the story. A parallel-cinema-to-mainstream cross-over actor himself, Pankaj Kapur has attempted to merge both these sensibilities into a story of two lovers affected by every national tragedy since 1992 (1984, if we include Shahid Kapoor’s exposition in the final frame). So much so, that by the end of the film, it all seems not just contrived (which it is) but also convenient and far-fetched. Instead of being a social comment, Mausam seems to be making a mockery of these events by using them as handy tools as plot-points and narrative propellors.
A traditional romantic epic demands a ‘real man’ pursuing his vulnerable, exquisite, feminine love interest despite all the conflicts and obstacles that life throws in their way. Mausam fails on most of these counts. Shahid is known for his boyish charm and he sparkles in the initial reels where he plays a village youngster. But Shahid Kapoor with a mustache is just a boy with a mustache. He fails to bring conviction to the grown-up air force pilot character. Sonam Kapoor looks dazzlingly beautiful as always but the script fails to exploit her vulnerability. Finally, it is on the conflicts and obstacles front that Mausam gets frustratingly tiresome (and almost hilarious). There is no conflict in this film that cannot be negated by characters simply talking it out.
Of the supporting cast, it is Aditi Sharma who has probably the most completely defined character arc and she executes the responsibility brilliantly. Manoj Pahwa, Supriya Pathak and Anupam Kher are dependable as always but fail to rise above the mediocrity of the proceedings. The film does get the music aspect right. Shot across continents, the cinematography is crisp and picturesque. As for the screenplay, if only the writers had let their hearts rule, this film would have been different.
Mausam only ends up heightening the craving for that epic romantic melodrama. Every generation deserves one. And this generation has waited too long. Here’s hoping that all is not lost in the rush for irreverence and faux-coolness.
<Tushar A Amin is the author of Bollywood Themes and former editor of FHM India. Follow Tushar on twitter: @tusharaamin>