‘Mukti Bhawan’ movie review: Celebrates expiration beyond hours

Directed By: Shubhashish Bhutiani
Produced By: Sanjay Bhutiani, Sajida Sharma, Shubhashish Bhutiani
Cast: Adil Hussain, Lalit Behl, Navnindra Behl
Duration: 1 hour 40 minutes
Bollywood Bubble Rating: 3/5

“Death must be so beautiful. To lie in the soft brown earth, with the grasses waving above one’s head, and listen to silence. To have no yesterday, and no tomorrow. To forget time, to forget life, to be at peace.”- Oscar Wilde.

To be honest, this freaked me out. I won’t lie, it still does. The thought of my non-existence, or a dear one’s absence sends chills down my spine. How desperately, perilously do we strive to win over death and to hold on to little moments of aliveness! As I write ‘Mukti Bhawan’ movie review, I am taken back to all those times death beautifully took away the precious ones, apprising us that it’s inevitable.

Rajiv (Adil Hussain), a middle-aged man, sets his work aside and takes his father to the holy city of Varanasi. Daya (Lalit Behl), the 77-year-old man, has the same dream every night and considers it a hint from the universe that his time is over. As he wants to attain salvation, he must travel to Varanasi, worship the holy Ganges and peacefully await the end to arrive. Rajiv has to give up to his father’s stubbornness and somehow manages to accompany him, leaving his wife and daughter behind. They both check in to Mukti Bhawan, a hotel for people who want to spend their last days, awaiting death. But what was supposed to be just an ending, plants new emotions. As they both know the end is near, the unspoken grievances are told, the restrained expressions of love finally make way and parting ways becomes difficult. The dying man finds unfamiliar solace in Vimla (Navnindra Behl), a woman waiting for death to take her for last 18 years. As they assimilate the sudden feeling of living, we gasp and wonder what would it be for them to be out of life one day.

A wise man once said, the world looks best when seen through the eyes of a dying man; and that’s true. The film throughout has a strange sense of conclusion. You know what’s next, but you desperately want the present to turn into eternity. My eyes turned all moist as I saw an old man was holding an old woman with his trembling fingers. My face broke out in an unconscious, wide smile as they secretly sipped bhang and beamed with mischief. All the times you grieved someone’s death, you probably had no idea they were desiring death since long!

Shubhashish Bhutiani had earned wide admiration for ‘Hotel Salvation’, English version of the film. It struck a chord to the global audience, with Bhutiani efficiently inserting morals and essence of Indian traditions in the story. For the urban audience, it is a much slow-paced film with less twists and much paradox. In a long time, ‘Mukti Bhawan’ is one film that takes over your senses, too heavily.

Lalit Behl and Adil Hussain do wonders together. When you look at them, you realise how the strongest bonds of love often hide underneath, often to be told only when time is running out. They tell you, letting go could be difficult, very difficult.

Tajdar Junaid’s background music was minimal and beautiful. But after the director himself, the most crucial doer here were cinematographers David Huwiler and Michael McSweeney who created the best out of small images. The sense of temporariness was too prevalant throughout.

‘Mukti Bhawan’, however, remains a niche film. There is no song, there is no suspense and there is no space for a light leisure. If you’re game to come out with a heavy heart, this one is for you.

Because all we can do is to celebrate the end!