Mr and Mrs Mahi review: Rajkummar Rao, Janhvi Kapoor throw a no ball despite a perfect partnership | Bollywood

Sports films in Bollywood have mostly relied on the same tried and tested tropes that invite thunderous applause in a packed stadium when the protagonist beats all odds to emerge victorious. Barring Sushant Singh Rajput-starrer Chhichhore which didn’t belong to the ‘happy ending’ herd, most sports dramas — right from Lagaan, Chak De! India to most recent Maidaan — have shown the underdog stories. Safe bet, isn’t it? Director Sharan Sharma’s romantic sports drama, Mr and Mrs Mahi is no different. (Also read: Maidaan review: Ajay Devgn is the soul of this stunningly-shot sports drama with a heart)

Mr and Mrs Mahi review: Rakummar Rao and Janhvi Kapoor team up again after Roohi.
Mr and Mrs Mahi review: Rakummar Rao and Janhvi Kapoor team up again after Roohi.

The film struggles to stay afloat with an inconsistent pace and a storyline that’s way too predictable to generate any curiosity. What works, however, is its lead pair Rajkummar Rao and Janhvi Kapoor’s partnership that barely saves an almost-lost game. But beyond that, I really can’t put my finger on anything that has stayed with me for long and made me stand up and take notice. For a sports film, that too on cricket, Mr and Mrs Mahi lacks adrenaline, and its pacing issues only worsen it.

Unlock exclusive access to the latest news on India’s general elections, only on the HT App. Download Now! Download Now!

The plot

The story revolves around Mahendra (Rajkummar Rao) and Mahima (Janhvi Kapoor) aka Mr and Mrs Mahi, who not only share the same nicknames, but also a deep love for cricket, so much so that on their wedding night, they are sitting on the sofa watching an India-Australia match. It reaches a point that MBBS topper Mahima leaves her hospital job, and starts chasing her childhood dream of hitting the red ball in the stands. Mahendra, on the other hand, tried his to excel on the pitch, but ends up as a failed cricketer. He rekindles his passion by turning coach for his wife and honing her raw skills. But this is Bollywood and a story set in Rajasthan, India, where men aren’t really conditioned to live with a more successful wife getting all the spotlight and enjoying a ‘star status’. This sense of insecurity, jealously and betrayal make this madly-in-love-for-cricket couple realise their shortcomings, mistakes and achievements, serving us a drama that rides high on emotions yet leaves you unsatisfied with its half-baked execution.

Losing the plot

The script that Sharan has co-written with Nikhil Mehrotra is set on a strong relatable base that could have struck an instant chord with audience, as many often find themselves in a position where they question their career choices and often reflect on their childhood dreams that they never chased. But what was on paper clearly didn’t translate on the screen, as the film meanders mid-way and becomes yet other melodramatic family saga with too many characters cribbing about one thing or the other. There are several scenes in the film where Mahendra and Mahima are giving or receiving a pep talk from each other, or someone other character, but you never feel any tension. Most of the scenes are as average as its dialogues.

One of the sequences that might catch your interest is between Mahendra and his father Hardayal Aggarwal (Kumud Mishra) at their sport shop, where a photo wall has Hardayal’s pictures with all legendary cricketers. When Mahendra is asked by a young customer why his picture isn’t on the wall of fame, his father replies with a taunt: Jo jeevan mein chakke lagate hain, wahi yahan nazar aate hain. The portion carries a lot of depth and subtle takeaways about parenting tips and consequences of suppressing childhood dreams. The film also briefly puts the spotlight on cricket coaches who are in most cases tagged as the unsung heroes. In a scene when Mahendra’s coach Benny Dayal Shukla (Rajesh Sharma) offers him a coach’s job, Mahendra turns it down saying, ‘Coach ko poochta hi kaun hai’.

Janvhi Kapoor and Rajkummar Rao in Mr and Mrs Mahi.
Janvhi Kapoor and Rajkummar Rao in Mr and Mrs Mahi.

Good performances

While Rajkummar and Janhvi’s strong performances keep you invested in their respective characters, the film in totality never leaves a lasting impact and appears to be half-baked. Rajkummar, after a brilliant performance in Srikanth earlier this month, again manages to steal the show. His vulnerability, strength, struggle, moments of self-doubt and frustration are all powerful and highlight his acting prowess.

Janhvi trained for the sport for two years and she does pull of some big shots that show the hard work she has put in, but the cricket bits were not as exciting as they could have been. Collaborating with her Gunjan Saxena director one more time, Janhvi looks very one-dimensional throughout the film. If anything, it’s her scenes with Rajkummar that lift her performance. Together as a pair, the two had a refreshing chemistry, and I wish the director played on that bit a little more. Soon after their wedding and following a funny first night, romance sparks between them, but it vanishes all too quickly. And honestly, that’s exactly the level of interest you’d have in the film; it vanishes before you even know it.

Mr and Mrs Mahi is a one-time watch for its earnest performances, but the film is devoid of a superlative script or wow moments. It’s an ambitious sports film that tries to make a point, but sadly misses the shot. I wish at least in the title, Mrs came before Mr and we could have then celebrated women in cricket a little more.

Source link