Writer Aseem Arora probably had all the ingredients to make Malang an atypical psychological thriller as intended…if only director Mohit Suri’s execution was able to match up!
Rating – 2.5 / 5 ⭐⭐½
Thrilling plotline, Goan setting, and a steamy Aditya Roy Kapur romancing Disha Patani on the beach – look me in the eye and tell me that’s something you don’t want to see? Of course you do! Especially if you had a pinch of Mohit Suri directorial songs and our beloved Anil Kapoor in to the equation, this one was a solid hit-and-miss. Drawing on genres of love, sex, revenge, and hardcore drama, Malang seemed to have almost everything it takes to succeed as one of those dark, trippy films – then what exactly went wrong? Well, it’s slightly more complicated than you think.
Malang oscillates between present day, when bad cop Agashe (Anil Kapoor) and good cop Michael Rodriguez (Kunal Khemu) strive to find a cold-blooded, psychotic murderer on the loose, and a recent past, where Advait Thakur (Aditya Roy Kapur), your boy-next-door travel freak meets the cliché bucket list-obsessed Sara Nimbiar (Disha Patani) and the two form an instant connect as they do wild wild things. However, the mystery unveils when each character falls under the spotlight, tripping on their inner trauma and the bridge between the past and present is formed.
On any given day, the idea of flashbacks and flashforwards setting up two parallel but intertwined stories simultaneously is a total win – however, every cinematic strategy requires detail-oriented planning and that’s exactly where Malang fell back. The first half attempted to set the stage, to prepare the audience for the poor quality LSD trip to follow but failed to do anything more than make us jealous of Advait & Sara’s endless rager life…ugh. The meat of the film was conveniently squeezed into the post-interval segment (so all you latecomers can take a chill pill), which was quite a headache to process all at once. Locking eyes with the screen and engaging with the story became quite a challenge for us viewers.
“Tumhare liye sukoon kya hai?” – “To live life from one high to another”
Except Adi Kapur’s chiseled hippy look, which complimented his personality accurately, the other leads were pretty much lifeless. Malang’s inability to dive deep into the soul of its characters and truly define their internal battles was the primary reason for its downfall. The much-needed sync between character development and plot progression was left completely to the audience for guesswork. This brings me back to my point about strategic planning – after having a concrete, unseen psychological murder mystery in front of you, isn’t it mandatory to back it up with some intelligent suspense build-up? Yeah, well, tell that to Mohit Suri because he thought getting Disha to casually say “Maarna mera mazza hai” in the trailer was no spoiler at all. Lol.
Anywayyy, let’s talk about performances (‘cause that’s always fun, right?) – all you Adi Roy Kapur fangirls out there, congratulations, we finally witness our hottie make a legitimate effort to sink into Advait’s persona with utmost conviction. Anil Kapoor was yet another box-ticked for Malang as he pulled off the raging alcoholic-druggy avatar brilliantly. But the real surprise package here was frikkin’ Kunal Khemu, who I simply cannot praise enough – his understated, elegant yet persuasive performance enabled his character Michael to flow with the story, leaving us oh-so-floored! And lastly, we have our steamy heroine Disha Patani, to whom I just want to say that babe, you’re a stunner but you definitely need to work on your stiff dialogue delivery, expressionless face and zoned-out screen presence.
Unleash the madness? More like unleash the superficial internal trauma in the most shabby way possible. The only reason I’d recommend Malang to you cinephiles is for Kunal Khemu’s deadly performance and so that maybe after sitting through a poorly-made thriller, we’re able to better appreciate some of the groundbreaking, gripping work that Bollywood has and will give to us.
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