Mandali movie review: simple, earnest and effective
What: Mandali – Abhishek Duhan, Aanchal Munjal and Rajniesh Duggall starrer directed by Rakesh Chaturvedi Om reminds us of those Ram Leela we watched in our childhood days and what is happening to that divine tradition.
Mandali movie synopsis
Set in Mathura a well-known town of Uttar Pradesh, Mandali is the story of Purushottam Choubey (Abhishek Duhan) and his cousin Sitaram Choubey (Ashwath Bhatt) who participate in Ram Leela playing Lord Ram and Lakshman respectively.
Purushottam Chaobey’s uncle Ramsevak Choubey (Vineet Kumar) has been conducting Ram Leela as a tradition since ages. One day, due to the carelessness of Sitaram Choubey, a Ram Leela performances gest cancelled and Ramsevak’s Mandali (troupe) which was supposed to performed gets humiliated.
Faced by humiliation and the degradation of the divine tradition of playing Ram Leela – the story of Lord Rama – Ramayana (world’s greatest epic on duty, responsibility and humanity) Ramsevak decides to close the Mandali and stop playing Ram Leela.
Purushottam doesn’t wants to give up and he dreams to play a pious Ram Leela shunning those cheap nautanki dance performances used to bring the audience.
Amidst all these, a local youth leader Omkar Singh Rajniesh Duggal is fighting the upcoming election and Omkar is the idol of Purushottam.
However, Purushottam’s love of life Bittan Kumari aka Bunty (Aanchal Munjal) doesn’t like Rajniesh at all.
What happens next?
At the time of this OTT revolution, a movie comes that reminds you of the Ram Leela you may have watched on stage and even played as a child either on stage or with friends etc. this big city metropolitan world is a world of smart I phones, slick wheels and touch screens and to take this subject as a film needs some courage and director Rakesh Chaturvedi Om has that.
Rakesh Cahturvedi Om makes a simple film and makes a sincere attempt to highlight the fading tradition of Ram Leela in our small towns, villages etc.
The USP of Mandali is its simplicity and honesty. Many times makers in their over enthusiasm in proving their point go overboard, turn preachy but here the writer director Rakesh Chaturvedi Om along with his writers Pallav Jain and Vinay Agrahari keep it simple and focus on the core issue.
The problem is that the writing is too simple and the narration gives a feel of those serials during nineties, though it works here but for wider impact - the metro city feels during Dussehra and what is happening in those stages where Ram Leela is getting played would have created a better impact.
Secondly, the remorse of Sitaram and Ramsevak of not being able to play Ram Leela is not shown.
What makes Purushottam getting impressed by Omkar Singh is a question mark.
There are many other flaws but what makes 'Mandali' a decent film is its earnestly, the right milieu, atmosphere and dialect.
Indian cinema and the world of OTT is setting their stories in the hinterland and mostly are on popular themes, Mandali is based in Mathura and has a unique theme.
Bigger budget may have created wonders but still Mandali never loses its plot and the director Rakesh Chaturvedi Om maintains the flair.
Abhishek Duhan is quite good.
Aanchal Munjal has her moments
Vineet Kumar is fine
Rajneish is in the character
Vineet Kumar is competent
Mandali is a reminder that we should preserve our tradition and value them no matter how big, bigger is the power and greed of commercialisation.