Malang is about four people in Goa whose destinies are entwined due to two fatal nights, which is something that does sound great on paper. However, the combined efforts of director Mohit Suri and writers Aseem Arrora and Aniruddha Guha turns this mildly interesting plot into a two-hour slog. And no, neither Aditya Roy Kapur’s abs nor Disha Patani’s thighs, which are clearly put on display to distract the audience from the poor storytelling, can save it from drowning in its own pretentiousness.
Let’s make one thing clear, when a movie is marketed with the sex appeal of its lead actors, melodious songs, and a subtitle saying “Unleash The Madness”, you know that there’s going to be a shitty story in there. Yet you go into Malang, hopeful because Mohit Suri made that one good movie way back in 2007 called Awarapan, wishing that he is going to recreate that charm in some shape or form. However, when you come out, you’re neither titillated by the sex appeal of the actors or moved by the pain in the songs or witnessed the unleashing of any kind of madness. What you are is bored to death!
Malang is directed by Mohit Suri. It is written by Aseem Arrora and Aniruddha Guha. The movie’s music is by Mithoon, Ankit Tiwari, Asim Azhar, Ved Sharma, The Fusion Project, score by Raju Singh, cinematography by Vikas Sivaraman, and editing by Devendra Murdeshwar. The cast consists of names like Aditya Roy Kapur, Disha Patani, Anil Kapoor, Kunal Kemmu, Elli AvrRam, and Amruta Khanvilkar. The story revolves around Aditya’s Advait, Disha’s Sara, Anil’s Agashe, and Kunal’s Michael. Advait and Sara are connected because of tharak. Agashe and Michael are connected because they’re in the police. And the four of them are connected because of a mixture of tharak and police work.
It’s difficult to understand if the writers of Malang are out of or in touch with reality, and either of those scenarios are troubling.
The movie starts off with Advait in jail and engaging in a brawl in order to receive a bracelet (those friendship band waala bracelets). Then it flashbacks to happier times where Advait was a backpacker of sorts and whose journey to Goa brought him across Sara. After that we meet Agashe, an encounter specialist, who gets a call from Advait because he’s on a kill spree. That brings us to Michael, a Catholic police officer, because it’s his colleagues who are on Advait’s path of wrath. And then the movie turns into part love story with no chemistry and part thriller with no thrill.
The central problem of why Malang doesn’t work is right there. The writers don’t know what to tell. They want to tell a story set in Goa and look into the stigma around the drug use over there. They want to talk about modern romance and how people can find love in today’s hook-up-and-break-up-esque relationships. They want to talk about revenge due to personal loss. They also want to talk about toxic masculinity. However, they have no idea, absolutely no f*cking idea, how to tie them together in a cohesive fashion. Yet they are working with big production houses and telling stories that are reaching millions of people. And hence you have a plot that just trudges around from one place to another and one timeline to another without a sliver of an emotional impact.
Okay, even if I bend myself backwards to get to the spine of the story, while breaking my spine in the process, I will say that it is about how the carefree nature of our generation makes them oblivious to the horrors of the world. But both the ‘carefree’ aspect and ‘horrors’ are represented in such a sanitised, kid-friendly, and immature that it’s hard to take any of it seriously. I am guessing Advait and Sara are in their late ‘20s and are supposed to represent people of my age. But I have never heard people talk like them. Even the most hollow-minded, Instagram-suckling parts of my generation are more articulate than these two dumb-fu*ks. And as for the crime, it’s described (IDK why it’s described instead of showing since it’s an A-rated flick) with the help of words that are probably used by 6th standard kids, thereby butchering any sense of relevance.
In my opinion, Mohit Suri rarely has made good movies. He has just put good songs in them.
That sounds pretty controversial but let’s do a run down. As of now, Suri has made Zeher, Kalyug, Woh Lamhe, Awarapan, Raaz: The Mystery Continues, Crook, Murder 2, Aashiqui 2, Ek Villain, Hamari Adhuri Kahani, Half Girlfriend, and Malang. Zeher is a bad remake of an already bad movie called Out of Time. Kalyug is a middling remake of a middling movie called 8MM. Murder 2 is a bad remake of the brilliant South Korean movie, The Chaser. Aashiqui 2 is a horrendous remake of A Star is Born. Ek Villain is a f*cked up retread of the riveting I Saw the Devil. Awarapan is a somewhat good remake of A Bittersweet Life. That leaves us with Raaz, Crook, and Malang, all of which are just plain bad. So, what’s Suri’s real contribution? Getting good composers to make good songs because I am sure you still listen to the songs from the above-mentioned movies even though you haven’t watched the movie in a long time.
I am not going to lie. The movie’s opening sequence had me excited because of Suri’s attempt at an one take, somewhat aping the prison escape scene in Daredevil Season 3. It has its flaws but it felt like a sincere effort to do something that needed meticulous planning, practice, structuring and editing. However, the way he starts falling back on better action scenes to make it look like he has any idea how to craft an action scene is what threw me completely out of the experience. Maybe these are spoilers but I am going to talk about these examples anyway so look away if you don’t want to know about them. The first one’s where Advait runs and jumps from the roof of a stadium. That’s copied from the last bit of the roof-top chase in Mission: Impossible – Fallout down to the cut between the takes. The second one’s where Agashe runs into Advait with a car. That’s ripped off from the altercation between Baby and Buddy in the third act of Baby Driver where Baby has to jump over Buddy’s car.
Now, let’s address the elephant in the room: Suri’s understanding of ‘malang’ i.e. a sort of euphoric madness which one attains when detached from the material (there are many other definitions but let’s stick to this one for now). The expression itself is so freeing and can be expressed in so many creative ways (since Suri is a fan of ripping off, he could’ve taken some inspiration from Trainspotting, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Requiem for a Dream). Instead he resorts to trashy edits, courtesy of Mr. Murdeshwar, and Tik Tok levels of camerawork. That just goes to show that Suri’s version of the dark and light side of getting high on drugs or revenge or anger is so f*cking juvenile that it begs the question if he was even the right person to touch topics as universal as this. And even if the producers thought that no one other than Suri could’ve pulled off, why wasn’t he urged to go ape-shit? So many questions, so little answers!
Aditya Roy Kapur and Kunal Kemmu are kinda watchable. Anil Kapoor and Amruta Khanvilkar are wasted. Disha Patani can’t act.
Isn’t this header self-explanatory? Do I need to say what those words mean? Well, okay. Aditya has some good screen presence in Malang. Although his version of acting villainous is not moving a facial muscle and faking a baritone, he does a lot physically that gives an idea how much his character has changed as a person. He changes the way he runs to the way he looks around and that’s enough. I wish the rest of the cast could’ve taken cues from him. I also wish that he gets more meaty roles like this so that he can flex his acting muscles instead of just flexing his bodily muscles.
Kunal Kemmu and Amruta Khanvilkar do a steady enough job in the scenes they are given, but at the end of the day are mostly wasted. I laud Anil Kapoor’s decision to do a negative role. However, every time he’s on screen, it’s cringe-o-clock. I think many will be overwhelmed by the fact that he’s doing a negative role and hence not note that he’s over-hamming it up. I wasn’t and hence couldn’t help myself from clenching my fist at his performance. Disha Patani is bearable until she opens her mouth. I am assuming that the makers thought that putting her in delightful dresses and making her walk around is going to get a lot of asses on the theatre seats. But the moment they’ll hear her talk, I am sure they’re going to run for the exit door.
I have no serious reason to recommend Malang to y’all. So, here’s the most hilarious reason: the guy who has written the drug abuse disclaimers definitely deserves a raise. I didn’t note them down but there’s some sick rhyming going there and you can play a drinking game where you can take a shot every time a rhyming disclaimer comes up. Hopefully that will make the movie somewhat enjoyable. Otherwise just wait for the movie to come on Netflix in the next few months. There are much better movies that have more to say about the human psyche i.e. Uncut Gems and Birds of Prey. Please watch them instead of Malang.