Planet Bollywood
Producer: Arindam Chaudhuri
Director: Rajat Kapoor
Starring: Naseruddin Shah, Neha Dhupia, Ranvir Shorey, Harsh Chhaya, Saurabh Shukla, Vinay Pathak, Iravati Harshe, Brijendra Kala, Iklaq Khan
Music: Sagar Desai
Genre: Thriller
Recommended Audience: General
Approximate Running Time: 1 hr 40 mins
Film Released on: 08 February 2008
Reviewed by: Amodini Sharma  - Rating: 8.5 / 10
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Public Rating Average: 5.11 / 10 (rated by 410 viewers)
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It’s one of my wildest dreams come true. A dream that one day film directors would revolt against standard-issue masala, boy-meets-girl formulas, and decide to carve out their own niches. What gladdens my heart furthermore, is the fact, that not only are filmmakers moving away from the ordinary, they are actually pushing the envelope to give us interesting, intelligent cinema. The fact that a film like Mithya is made and executed with finesse, and an outstanding cast is proof enough.

Rajat Kapoor returns to the director’s chair after Raghu Romeo (2003) and Mixed Doubles (2006) with another “different” story. This time he ropes in the usual suspects Ranvir and Vinay, and other stalwarts like Naseeruddin shah and Saurabh Shukla. Mithya means “falsehood” – as in our hero Vinod Kumar (Shorey) being forced to live a falsehood. I hate to give away too much here, because the story is one to be relished – the less you know the better. Still, for all the folks who want at least the bare bones, let it be known that the film is about VK, as he is known , a small-time, struggling actor, who inadvertently gets caught between inter-gang rivalries, due to, shall we say, a quirk of nature.

Shukla and Kapoor have written this film. And, really, while I’m chuckling at the new twist they’ve given the “double role” formula, I’m all 'agog' with curiosity as the film progresses. The story is quite unpredictable, as it veers this way and that. Shorey has the meatiest role as our hero, VK, a good-hearted fella, practising his dialogue and his expression, even when all his role calls out for is him playing dead. He does his 2-bit roles in films, kow-tows to directors and producers in the hope for bigger breaks, and nurses his whisky (with its free glass) on the beach. This is where trouble comes calling.

Naseer plays Gawde, a mobster who hopes to knock off the big Don – Rajendra Sahay. In cahoots with him is his rotund partner (Saurabh Shukla), a desi Danny De Vito of sorts; appears harmless (is given to bouts of mirth) but is actually pretty lethal. Gawde’s girlfriend, starlet Sonam (Neha Dhupia) is roped into Gawde’s plan, and Ram (Vinay Pathak) and Shyam (Brijendra Kala) are Gawde’s men who do the actual dirty work. Harsh Chhaya and Iravati Harshe, two names who’ve transitioned from the small-screen to the big rather well, round off this astounding cast.

This is a thriller, but does contain more than its fair share of comic moments. There is romance too, although subtle. It’s all pretty realistically done, of course, the helplessness and anguish of the protagonist there for all to see. Mithya’s characters appear to be real people; they live their sordid everyday lives, scheming to be better, have more, grasping at straws. Mithya subjects its hero to massive emotional upheaval; not only is he unceremoniously yanked out of his humdrum everyday life, at a mobster’s behest, but his world goes all topsy-turvy when he forms attachments which cannot ever come to fruition. Thus not only is VK, angry, scared and hateful, he is also adored, loved and loves in return. One genuinely feels for the guy.

Ranvir Shorey plays his role beautifully – I was moved to tears at the scene where he returns to Iravati, to implore her to take him back. Neha Dhupia comes in strong as Sonam, and Naseer and Shukla do justice to their characters, as expected. Kala and Pathak have smaller roles but are very good.

The film’s USP is its story and screenplay, of course. The music (songs and background score) is passable. Still, I have no complaints; in fact I am delighted with the film. This one is a definite must-see.

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