Point of View - Priti Bakalkar reviews Mahim Junction

Mahim Junction: A Bollywood musical on stage

“Mahim Junction is an affectionate spoof on Bollywood films of the 70s.” This much description was enough to raise interest of a movie buff like me. I made a note in my diary to watch it and accordingly I ran at 6pm sharp from my workplace to NCPA for 6.30p.m. show on Friday. And I chose “Mahim Junction” over “Salt” which released the same day!!!

Of course, I did not expect anything extra ordinary. In fact what I was expecting was a mindless spoof on mindless Bollywood scene of the 70s. Well, not much to expect, I guess.

There were good old melodies playing of 60’s and 70’s in the auditorium. I expected a good house it being a Friday evening but quite low turnout for Tata Theatre, just about 100 people may be.

It began with the introduction of the play, how it started in Delhi and then toured Dubai and Muscat and within India and journey ahead to China and Malaysia after Mumbai shows. “Impressive Journey”, I thought to myself.

The story by and large took place on a secluded platform of Mahim railway station. It is about a group of people from certain “Basti” nearby the station who for some reason spend their day on the platform right from the time they wake up.

In the opening scene the Director comes on the stage and interrupts the scene and lectures the characters about how the play is about 70’s Bollywood movies and not one of the realistic movies of Prakash Jha and the likes and advises them to go “over the top”. And she demonstrates what is this means by dancing to a number from “Jewel Thief”. Well, the characters were already pretty “over the top” so what more did she want from them? And by the way Jewel Thief is not a 70’s movie. At the most late 60’s! 70’s was time of “Kaka” and “Angry Young Man” and not Dev Anand and Shammi Kapoor. The Lady needs to do a lot of homework. My mind starts doing overtime.

Nevertheless, I waited patiently to story to unfold. It was one of the thinnest and weakest storylines spread over two hours. It is about these bastiwalas who are only seem to enter and exit this platform. It mainly revolves around the Hindu naïve girl “Radha” and her muslim flamboyant boyfriend “Rahim”. Radha’s mother is against the match. Then Rahim gets framed in a case of terror attack. Radha falls prey to the villainous film director “DDLJ Kaladhanda”. And the problems get sorted out with help of the bastiwalas and “Randy”, the young foreign returned protégé of DDLJ who contests elections from “the basti” constituency. That’s the long and short of the storyline.

For about one hour various characters entered, blabbered, danced and mimed to some nice Hindi old melodies (again many not from 70’s) and then exited. And there I was getting more and more impatient as I started seeing people walking out of the play. Finally, when my neighbour walked out at 45th minute me and my friend Smita gave ourselves a deadline of 10 minutes to walk away. The action started on arrival of DDLJ and we waited on. But when the play did not end even after rescue of Rahim from jail and Radha and Rahim’s wedding me and Smita picked up our bags and ran for our life. I wonder what was shown after we left. Maybe Radha and Rahim had kids and they went to school and one of them became a bad guy and other one a cop and the conflict between the two… Who knows?But quite possible!!

There were numerous characters in the story and many could have been knocked off completely. The characters were all “over the top” to the point of irritating. Well, they were funny by going over the top not irritating. There were only a handful of places where we could laugh. But that was also out of frustration. The storyline was very thin and to stretch it for 2 hours should be a criminal offence. There were way too many scene changes which were distracting and not necessary at all. They neither took the story forward nor strengthened the plot. A lot of homework needs to be done on social background of Mumbai in 70’s as well as music of 70’s. A Bengali fisherwoman in Mumbai in 70’s!!! A South Indian “champiwala” on station!? And bomb blasts in the basti in 70s?? Well, at the most it could have been an case of arson, but Bomb Blast? It is more of late 80’s or 90’s style of terror attacks. And what on the earth made “Randy” go to a film producer to take lessons on social reform? And what the hell is “DDLJ Kaladhanda” 's business? Did she really think it would be funny! Oh, hell no!! It was pathetic. But the actor did play it well, so that was a saving grace. DDLJ and Rahim were the only two characters who did their best to salvage the situation. For the others the less said the better. Many a times Radha was incomprehensible due to her shrieking. The only high point of the play was the set change from Mahim Station to DDLJ’s bedroom and the beautiful melodies of late 60’s. That’s about it.

Next time I will pass the real “Mahim Junction” I am going to close my eyes to block the bad memories of this “Mahim Junction”!