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Movie Review, REVIEWS

Mukti Bhawan: A Cinematic Odyssey Through Life and Death

There are films that entertain, films that make you laugh, and films that make you cry. And then there are films like Mukti Bhawan, which transcend the boundaries of entertainment and take you on a profound journey of spirituality and the inevitability of life and death. Released in 2016, this gem of a movie is not just a cinematic masterpiece but a spiritual experience that lingers in your heart long after the credits roll.

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In Search of Salvation

Mukti Bhawan, directed by Shubhashish Bhutiani, is a film that grabs you by the soul from the very beginning. It tells the story of a son, Rajiv (played by the very talented Adil Hussain), who is reluctantly forced to accompany his father Daya (Lalit Bhel), to the holy city of Varanasi, where they check into the Mukti Bhawan, a guesthouse for those awaiting death. Daya believes that his time has come, and according to Hindu beliefs, he must die in Varanasi to attain salvation. Thus begins their stay at Mukti Bhawan, a place where the living and the dying coexist.

The film’s strength lies not in its elaborate plot or grandeur, but in its simplicity and authenticity. It paints a vivid and heartfelt portrayal of the complex emotions that surround the end of life. You witness the awkwardness of Rajiv as he juggles the responsibilities of being a dutiful son with the harsh reality of his father’s impending death.

What truly sets Mukti Bhawan apart is its ability to find humor in the most profound and sensitive of subjects. The dialogues are sprinkled with wit and irony, making you laugh even as you contemplate life’s most profound questions. It’s a film that beautifully captures the essence of the human experience – the laughter, the tears, and the moments in between.

Varanasi as a Character in Mukti Bhawan

Varanasi, with its narrow winding lanes and the majestic Ganges, becomes more than just a backdrop; it’s a character in itself. The city’s spirituality, mysticism, and ancient rituals are seamlessly woven into the narrative. The cinematography by David Huwiler is a visual treat, capturing the essence of Varanasi’s beauty with every frame.

The music by Tajdar Junaid is a soul-stirring accompaniment to the film. It captures the spiritual essence of Varanasi, infusing the narrative with a haunting melody. The songs are not just music; they are an integral part of the storytelling, enriching the film’s emotional depth.

Performances in Mukti Bhawan

As Daya’s days at Mukti Bhawan turn into weeks, Rajiv is confronted with his own existential crisis. He grapples with the conflicting emotions of duty and desire, the need to let go, and the fear of what lies beyond. Adil Hussain delivers a masterful performance, portraying the complexities of his character with a subtlety that is both moving and relatable. His portrayal of Rajiv’s inner turmoil is nothing short of extraordinary.

The supporting cast, including Geetanjali Kulkarni as Rajiv’s wife, adds depth to the narrative. Their interactions, while brief, are significant in highlighting the generational gap and the cultural clash between tradition and modernity.

Mukti Bhawan is not just a film; it’s a meditation on life and death. It gently nudges you to confront your own mortality and question the purpose of existence. It invites you to ponder the intricate tapestry of relationships, the regrets that haunt us, and the forgiveness that sets us free. It’s a film that celebrates life as much as it contemplates death.

As the film reaches its poignant climax, you find yourself grappling with your own mortality. You start to question the choices you’ve made, the relationships you’ve nurtured, and the dreams you’ve pursued. Mukti Bhawan is a mirror that reflects the human condition, and it does so with compassion and sensitivity that is truly remarkable.

Mukti Bhawan is a cinematic masterpiece that invites you to embark on a profound journey of self-discovery and introspection. It’s a film that makes you laugh and cry, that fills your heart with joy and sorrow, and that leaves you with a sense of awe and wonder. It’s a film that reminds us of the beauty and fragility of life, and it does so with grace, humor, and unflinching honesty. If you haven’t had the opportunity to experience this cinematic gem, I urge you to do so.

Mukti Bhawan is currently streaming on Disney+Hotstar

Image Courtesy: YouTube

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