Ritujaay Ghosh, OP
BHUBANESWAR: There is nothing in Milan Talkies that you haven’t watched in the century-old Indian cinema — romance, bromance, drama, action, comedy, songs, dance et al. Yet, Milan Talkies makes for an entertaining watch, thanks to a smartly written and well-executed script.
To put it simple, Milan Talkies is filmmaker Tigmanshu Dhulia’s ode to Bollywood and the beautiful city of Allahabad. In fact, in one of the scenes a character says, “Hamera seher ke ek actor ne kaha tha ‘Hum jaahan khade ho jaate hain, line wahi se shuru hoti hain.’”
After churning out poignant stories like Haasil, Paan Singh Tomar and Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster, Dhulia steps out of comfort zone and weaves a romantic tale set in a small town. Set in 2010, Milan Talkies opens with dialogues of some iconic Hindi films being played at a single screen theatre in Allahabad. Enter Aniruddh ‘Annu’ Sharma (Ali Fazal), a budding filmmaker, who dreams of making it big in Mumbai some day.
However, he has to satisfy his creative thirst by directing small films with amateur actors. The single-screen theatre is Annu’s second home where he unwinds with his friends in the company of the projectionist Usmaan (Sanjay Mishra). That said, filmmaking isn’t Annu’s only profession. In order to raise funds for his films, Annu helps weak students pass their exams by manipulating professors and supplying question papers. A chance meeting with Maithali (Shraddha Srinath), who seeks Annu’s help in clearing her exams, ends up in the two falling for each other.
The projection room in the single screen becomes their meeting point. But the picture isn’t that rosy, with Mithali’s marriage already pre-fixed by his orthodox father (Ashutosh Rana). Troubles double for the lovebirds when local goons, lead by Guru Pandey (Sikander Kher), pose as guardians of morality and start chasing them.
Milan Talkies may not be the best of products from Dhulia’s stable, with predictability being the film’s biggest weakness, yet it will keep you hooked on to it. At the onset, Milan Talkies looks a light-hearted romance but is an intelligent effort towards depicting the conservative mindset of people who are averse to change.
Milan Talkies is a take on how Hindi cinema continues to influence lives and love stories in small towns. Credit goes to scriptwriters Dhulia and Kamal Pandey, who repackage the clichés of Bollywood of the 1970s and 1980s with renewed fervour. In fact, more than the performances, Milan Talkies stands out for its tightly written script. In doing so, Dulia adds enough dosage of laughter with some tongue-in-cheek dialogues that makes the otherwise serious love story lighter.
And there too Dhulia steals the show playing Ali Fazal’s cinema-obsessed father lost in the Bollywood of the 1970s. Both Ali and Shraddha put up an impressive show but it’s the supporting cast led by Sanjay Mishra who hold the film together with some brilliant performance. Ashutosh Rana does a commendable job playing the loving but ultra-orthodox father of the heroine.
However, it’s the single screen-theatre Milan Talkies that plays Cupid in the love story.