Cast:Shreyas Talpade, Mahie Gill, Shahana Goswami, Konkona Sen Sharma, Raima Sen, Arunoday Singh and Rajpal Yadav
Mirch is a sexy idea that doesn’t quite come to fruition. Inspired from sources as varied as the Panchatantra and Boccaccio’s Decameron, writer-director Vinay Shukla strings together four stories focusing on the complicated, fraught, deeply painful and yet life-sustaining games that men and women play with each other. Sex, lies, disguises, deviousness and tears are the weapons at hand and women, in one story literally, are on top.
Binding these stories together is the larger tale of a struggling filmmaker, Maanav played by Arunoday Singh, who narrates them to a potential producer.
Maanav worships at the alter of Bergman and Bimal Roy but the market insists that he cater to the multiplex.
So the producer drops lines like: Sex is as saleable as a star. Bas, vulgarity nahin honi chahiye.
Shukla deftly pulls off the first two stories, both set in ancient times, in which the women, played by Raima Sen and Konkona Sen Sharma, are happily adulterous and most importantly, unpunished.
Both cheat on their husbands and get away with it. It’s done so cleverly and both Raima and Konkona are so joyously wicked that you almost want to cheer them on.
Sadly, Shukla can’t maintain this when he moves to contemporary times. The modern day stories are also clever but they aren’t crafted as well as the first two. But what really bogs the film down is the larger framework that these stories are set in.
Shukla’s portrait of the uncompromised filmmaker is clumsy and heavy-handed.
We know that Maanav is a true artist because his house is filled with film books and he and his editor-girlfriend earnestly discuss Mughal-e-Azam and Kaagaz ke Phool.
Of course the hulking Arunoday Singh, who is frequently shirtless in the film, looks like he spends more time pumping iron rather than brushing up his Guru Dutt. Singh’s stiff performance doesn’t help either.
Eventually then, despite some good moments and smart writing, Mirch isn’t the spicy romp it could’ve been. I’m going with two and a half stars.