Director: Rajat Kapoor
Cast: Ranvir Shorey, Neha Dhupia, Naseeruddin Shah, Vinay Pathak
Storyline: A junior artist who resembles an underworld don finds out that his new role has deadly consequences.
Bottomline: The Ranvir Shorey Show
There’s something about Rajat Kapoor’s storytelling that makes the most bizarre situations seem plausible. Every single stock situation from the cinema of the seventies is reworked on and unabashedly employed with a refreshing coat of realism, a touch of humour and splendidly, almost flawlessly, delivered by the actors… And a dark comic tale unfolds at a leisurely pace and spills across genre classifications.
Mithya (Hindi for fiction) is all about the knots that Indian cinema has been familiar with, but retold for the multiplex audience by a storyteller who doesn’t really care about the commercial trappings of the subject matter.
Here’s a sample of every screenwriter’s favourite knots:
Nature versus nurture: Check. Struggler aspiring to be popular: Check. The Maa connection: Check. Look-alikes of opposite characteristics: Check. The Classic ‘Don’ Switch: Check. Yaadaasht (Memory Loss): Check. Poor boy loves rich girl: Check.
Have you ever seen an indie filmmaker come up with this sort of a checklist and yet stick to his sensibility of storytelling. To convince us that the references to popular plot devices are all intentional, he even names the bad guy’s sidekicks, Ram aur Shyam.
Every author, more so a filmmaker, at some point in the course of writing or making a film is caught in a dilemma: Do I finish it to please the reader/viewer or do I take the story to its logical end?
The thing that differentiates independent cinema from the mainstream is that call the filmmaker takes at that point in time. Mithya is as indie as it gets in India.
It’s only in its attempts to take us deeper into the minds of the characters that it spends a little time away from the overall comic undertone of the film and loses pace.
Rajat allows his characters to breathe and talk the way they would in the real world, no matter how ridiculous the twist in the tale. If good fiction is about generating willing suspension of disbelief, Mithya takes a step more to convince you that it is completely possible for larger than life situations to occur in reality.
A huge part of that credit goes to the actors – all of them, especially, Ranvir Shorey who sinks his teeth into a role like an actor starved for a break. Don’t be surprised at a Best Actor nomination for this finely nuanced actor who gives his “struggling junior artiste forced into a larger role in an unusual situation” role a life of its own – he makes it so human that it’s like you almost know the guy.
An actor’s touch could immortalise even the most uni-dimensional character ever written. But here he’s blessed with a role that lets him dwell in its complexities and gives us a peak into his mind in a way that you not only empathise with a fictional character but also relate to him.
So when a character in the end sums it all up with the closing lines of the film, you are struck by the casualness of the definitive tone of Mithya – for a piece of fiction – very matter of fact.