“Agar aapko humare parivaar me dobara janam lene ka mauka milega, toh kya lenge?” a 50 year old son asks his 80 year old father. A son who is otherwise realistic and stern, at the thought of his father’s death, resorts to the most soothing thought process, however impractical it may be. The innocence of the question reveals the depth of the relation shared by Rajiv and his father Daya, both characters from a beautifully portrayed symbolic movie- ‘Mukti Bhawan’ directed by Shubhashish Bhutiani.
The movie opens with Daya (played by Lalit Behl), a retired school master, describing a dream that he has been having for many days now. The dream is full of silent messages, like the wish of an old dying man to re-capture moments of his childhood, the agility of a young body, the innocence of a carefree time, and the security of mother’s lap.
Daya interprets this dream as a sign from the great beyond, and concludes that his ‘time’ has come. He wants to spend his last days in Kashi so that he can attain Mukti. (It is believed that dying in Kashi is the surest way to attain Mukti.) This bizarre state of affairs brings to the fore a flush of emotions within Rajiv (played by Adil Hussain), who is struggling to get his priorities straight. With a lot already on his plate, from his job, to planning his daughter, Sunita’s (played by Palomi Ghosh) wedding, Rajiv reluctantly obliges to accompany his father.
In the maze-like streets of Kashi, stands an ancient senile structure which goes by the name ‘Mukti Bhawan’, the hotel which provides accommodation to people like Daya, who want to die in Kashi. But do not be mistaken that you can take your time, “You only get 15 days to die“ explains Mishraji (played by Anil K. Rastogi), the hotel manager. It is at Mukti Bhawan that we see a renaissance of the relationship shared by the father and son. And it is also here that the story brings forth a whole new outlook towards mortality.
Although Daya says it very casually that he is ready to die, he soon realises that you can never be ready for death. No matter how long you’ve been preparing yourself, death always comes as a sudden blow for you and your loved ones. The movie eloquently portrays how the realisation of mortality, of the fact that we’re all just hanging by a thread, changes people, perspectives and personal relations.
The juxtaposition of heavy cathartic scenes along with moments of light humour, and satirical comments on the weird practices associated with the concept of Mukti, leaves the audience in an introspective state of mind. The writing is brilliantly complemented with the amazing performances of the actors, who are able to bring the two dimensional characters out of the script and transform them into realistic and relatable people we find in our lives.
The major take from the movie is that death in itself is not actually a sad occasion. Even if you don’t believe in the concept of afterlife or Moksha, death is still a relief from the worldly pains (no, it doesn’t mean you should commit suicide). “Mujhe dhoom dhaam se vida karna” was probably the last thing Daya asks of his family. This shows how he has finally realised the meaning of death and is, in fact, ready for it. The movie is filled with sub-texts like this which makes it all the more engrossing. As Subhra Gupta said in her review of Mukti Bhawan, it most certainly is a movie to live and die by.
Suffice to say, the movie is a striking 4 out of 5 on a 5-Star scale.
You can watch the trailer of the movie here, https://youtu.be/1A1Sp6-GcmI
About the Author:
Poet by heart; realist by mind
Curious to the core
I’m weirdness redefined.