Let me start off by saying that I am a true-blue fan of Vidya Balan. In a world where a star kid is given ‘n’ number of chances in terms of scripts that are nonsense and roles that makes one question sanity, Vidya skills emerged like a winner, ever since she started lighting our screens. She has nailed each and every role of hers to date, if you ignore a few fiascos like ‘Kismat Konnection’ and ‘Heyy Babyy’. So, what is different this time, when she returns as the tough matriarch of a brothel, in the times of independence. We tell you. The difference, and something which can be quite a thorn in the side of Vidya’s unblemished performance, Rituparna Sengupta’s fierce act in the original Bengali film ‘Rajkahini’.
‘Begum Jaan’ has been helmed by the same director who created the finesse that was, however, the director who created the extraordinary has managed to create a frail replica of the original.
First and foremost, let us talk about Vidya Balan, the one woman for whose act we had been waiting for, since long. The trailer showed us quite enough of the badass side of Vidya, coming to surface for the first time since ‘Ishqiya’. However, when one has watched Rituparna perform the same role, it is a bit difficult to digest Vidya. She tries too hard, and yet does not come close to the fierce and scary persona that Rituparna donned. Vidya is great, but not spectacular, as is expected from an actor of her caliber. Her dialogues are said with intensity, and her expressions are just fine, but something along the way is missing.
The second issue that I have with the movie, is the narrative, which gets too tedious at times, enough to drive a person crazy with yawns. It recovers fast and catches up, but the sequences, especially those in the first half, are too boring at times.
However, if you move aside these two issues, and are one of those who have not watched the original ones, you should definitely flock to the theatres to watch this one, for you have no prior criteria set in your mind. The story which shows the fight of a group of women who are independent in their own rights, for their land, is one from the independence era that needs to be told. The other half is still fighting for its rights; imagine the plight of them some seven odd decades back. The performances of all are surreal and you really are transported to the time, as you live the plight and fight of Begum Jaan and her girls.
The performances of all the actors is pleasing and good. The only bug that nags you will be the one if you have watched the original. If not, then go ahead and give this one a watch, and it will definitely be worth your money and time. All the other ladies are phenomenal in their parts, be it Pallavi Sharda or Gauahar Khan. May be because when all the expectations were focused on Vidya Balan, these ladies were busy acing their own grounds.
Anu Malik, who returns to foray after a long time, has done a good job with the music. The background score lifts the narrative whenever the threat of slag crops up.
All in all, we would give ‘Begum Jaan’ 3/5. Watch this one this weekend, to know of an unknown war that a few women of no identity waged on the big authorities. Watch the power of the other half rise from a section who is denied rights even on their own bodies. Just don’t expect the brilliance of ‘Rajkahini’, like I did, for it will ruin the experience for you.