Monday, August 08, 2016

The Legend of Michael Mishra  

Bihari Romeo

There is some interest in Manish Jha’s latest, The Legend of Michael Mishra, because this director made Matrubhoomi, a dark, incisive film on the aftermath of unchecked female infanticide. His next, Anwar, sank without trace, so it is understandable that he would want to make a film in a popular format.

Unfortunately, he fails with this romcom that he makes in a quirky style set in a fully kitsch-ed up Bihar. When a word like ‘legend’ is used in the title, without irony, then what follows cannot be a juvenile love story.

FP (Boman Irani) runs a dhaba, where tourist buses stop with a well-planned puncture. He tells a bunch of passengers the story of Michael Misra—in Bihari style all ‘sh’ sounds become’ ‘s’, ‘f’ is pronounced ‘ph’, ‘w’ as ‘bh’ and so on.

As a young lad, Michael fell in love with a girl he saw dancing. He does not know anything about her, and hopes to recognize her one say from her style of saying “hello.” He grows up to be a kidnapper (Arshad Warsi), with a moronic sidekick Half Pant (Kayoze Irani--miscast), and finds the girl, Varsha (Aditi Rao Hyderi) at a Patna talent show, where she performs a ludicrous dance number with great confidence.

Though letters tossed into balconies, Michael learns that Varsha will reciprocate his love, if he reforms.  So he walks into a police station, amidst cowering cops and turns himself in. He ends up being sent to a distant prison forever.  Meanwhile Varsha goes on to become a movie star.

Jha tries so hard to entertain and charm, but watching the long film with every gag falling flat, and every performance a dud—including the ever bankable Warsi—can be wearisome. By the time the twist in the end arrives, most viewers would have zoned out.


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