This movie should be declared a health hazard. Directed and acted with the flatness of someone who's taken a handful of anti-psychotic medication, Mausam is not merely unwatchable, but also unlistenable. The film is part love saga, part history mumbo jumbo and 100 percent cheese. The bulk of this nearly three-hour epic is third-rate schmaltz that pays only lip service to romance. Take along some Fevi Kwik glue – it is the only thing that will keep your eyes from rolling repeatedly at the hoary clichés.
Writer-director Pankaj Kapur’s script is riddled with so many inanities, you count on Shahid Kapoor’s mustache to wake you from your stupor. In fact Mausam has very little on its mind other than making sure that 14-to-16 year old Shahid fans who see it would be impressed enough to tell their Facebook friends about it. As for the military sequences, IAF personnel would find this film to be strictly laughable material, and would want to boot it out of theaters on its blue-uniformed rear. Even as a date movie the melodrama is too silly and improbable to be enjoyed as trash.
As the plot plays out it not only follows formula but italicizes every element of it. Punjabi youngster Harry (Shahid Kapoor) hooks up with a Muslim girl Aayat (Sonam), but bizarre twists of fate keep separating them constantly. With gaping plot holes Papa Kapur seems to deliberately sabotage the film’s strengths at almost every juncture. For reasons unknown, Harry and Aayat don’t rely on standard modes of communication like forwarding address, Email or telephone numbers to keep in touch. The first 20 minutes set in Punjab are breezy, but all the characters are stereotypes, and their interaction is numbingly predictable. Also, they seem to be out of a pre-independence era despite being in the 90’s. Even the latter scenes set in Scotland and Switzerland have the corny eighties throwback, complete with cringe-inducing mush and tacky montages to match.
The remainder of the film bulls ahead through hackneyed scenes and uproariously contrived historic plot twists, grinding out an endless supply of platitude, not once offering so much as a marginally interesting moment. It just makes for an embarrassingly limp drama that could only please folks who have never been out to see a movie before.
The editing in Mausam is all over the place. One scene in particular, involving our hero piloting a malfunctioning aircraft is hysterically bad. While Binod Pradan's camera locks onto Shahid’s every clenching jaw muscle, he obliterates the footage with blurry close-ups and jagged cuts. Also, the hideously fake CGI plane shames the likes of the special effects used in the 1967 low budget sci fi ‘Wahaan ke log’. The only thing that detracts from the mossy holes in the script is the waxy imperfection of the production design.
It is difficult to judge the quality of the acting in Mausam. The lines are so corny, the characters written in such a one-dimensional manner, it is hard to take any of the performances seriously. Throughout the film, Shahid Kapoor wobbles unsteadily between an underclothing model and an overly made up caricature of a model. Nearly every line of the script drops from his mouth with the muffled thud of ham, timed with sidesplitting ineptness.
Sonam struggles with the cornball dialogue and often looks as uncomfortable delivering it as you'll feel sitting there watching her do so. Anupam Kher does what he can with the material, but is generally left floundering. Supriya Pathak simply seems lost in all the emotional claptrap. There is zero chemistry between Shahid and Sonam - Sadashiv Amrapurkar would have more chemistry courting Madhuri Dixit in a deep coma.
And yet, nothing compares to the mind bogglingly awful climatic scene that grabs you by the collar and laughs uncontrollably at you. Without giving too much away, I’ll just say there’s a white horse, a Ferris wheel, an orphan and the leads strolling around a riot-hit Gujarat, and it makes for a sequence that takes everything terrible that has come before it and transcends it to almost cartoonish levels of absurdity. It is an ending so bad, that it might become legend among film critics as one of the most hilariously appalling Hindi film endings of all time.
Mausam is a bloated, sludgy catastrophe that looks and feels phony in every detail. It’s hard to imagine a worse movie will come out this year.
First published in Mumbai Boss