It’s one of those neat things that Anurag Kashyap does – the only time Shravan, the titular boxing hero, gets his nose broken is when his girlfriend punches him in the face for being too possessive.
Mukkabaaz otherwise is a never ending series of bouts for Shravan in his quest for glory. His antagonist is Bhagwandas, played as a mad-eyed villian by Jimmy Shergill. The two represent every possible divide in India today – caste, money, political power, and skill. This then, is the battle between the have and the have-nots.
Kashyap strings together a narrative that brings to the fore the malaise prevalent in present day Uttar Pradesh – political corruption, goonda-raj, casteism. Shravan repeatedly fights these off, never giving up, never missing a punch. But Kashyap creates a sense of near despair as the plot proceeds, and you feel the wall closing behind the hero, despite his valor.
This is down to fine acting by an ensemble cast, which is ably led by Vineet Kumar Singh. He manages to convey unerringly a sense of doom born from the lack of resources life has given him. The oodles of boxing talent he has received to balance it out simply add to the tragedy. He is brilliant in scenes that are least related to the narrative; watch him burst out with lyrical cynicism as he rebukes his father for never having supported his passion. Matching him in their scenes together is the wordless Zoya Hussain, who plays his wife. She plays a mute, but her tremendous presence needs no words to be felt.
The setting is gritty and grimy – from small prison cells to inadequate boxing facilities, there is no glory in the film. The length should have been much shorter, because the visceral impact is lost by the time the film climaxes. Way too much time is wasted in both the first and second half to set the plot in motion, and is one of the main weaknesses of the film.
The strength is in its realism. It is shot on location, with seasoned actors, amidst recently controversial topics. The diction is gloriously authentic; references to meat for meals takes the cake.
Hindi, Action, Drama, Colour