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Film Review - Munnabhai MBBS

Chitra Parayath
03/23/2004

Tapori with a heart of gold, a hugging thug if you may! That is Munnabhai MBBS aka Murli Prasad Sharma for you. Vidhu Vinod Chopra and the director Raj Kumar Hirani could never have guessed how popular this comedy would prove to be. In Mumbai Bollywood parlance it could safely be called a super duper hit! And it came at a time when the industry desperately needed a commercial success.

Sunjay Dutt, Arshad Wasi and Boman Irani prove to be the casting coup of the decade. Dutt is Munnabhai, small time crook and extortionist who possesses a heart of gold that is the size of Texas. He lives happily with his henchmen in Mumbai, embracing a curious Bollywoody code of ethics, thus endearing himself to the audience from the start of the enterprise. When Munna’s parents (Sunil Dutt, back on screen after years and for the first time with his son, and Rohini Hattangadi) visit Munna, his abode is transformed into a hospital with motley thugs dressed as patients milling about in pain. We are told that it was Munna’s fathers dream that his wayward son be a physician and that after running away from the village at a young age, Munna reestablishes contact with his parents and convinces them that he is indeed a surgeon of repute.

All is well until Munna gets caught in his lie when an old acquaintance of his father Dr.Asthana spills the beans to Munna’s parents while confronting them with the truth that his daughter, an eminent daughter would never want to be hitched to a small time hoodlum like Munna.

Heartbroken, the parents return to their village and Munna vows that he would become a doctor and marry Asthana’s daughter, a childhood pal he has not set eyes on for many years.

Munna and Circuit go about getting the former admission into a medical school (sporting the most unconventional techniques) and of course the day after the exam, Munna is informed that he is in, and the very day after that the school starts! Suspend all disbelief and join Munna as he creates utter chaos in the hospital, driving Asthana and other cold- blooded reptilian physicians up the wall. Munna hugs indiscriminately, patients, old and young, sweepers, nurses, catatonic people, they all get the Munnabhai treatment but he pauses sometimes to impart to the audience a sugary message of love and giving. Perky Gracy Singh plays Asthana’s daughter Dr.Chinky, all she does is wear slinky salwars, prance around the hospital and smile tolerantly as the errant Munna carries on his wild pranks.

There are some truly hilarious moments… a couple come to mind. The ragging scene in the beginning is a treat to watch as is the classroom confrontation between Munna and the totally cheesed off Asthana.

Alls well that ends well and after some truly excruciating and unnecessarily emotional scenes, loose ends are tied up and Munna, Chinky, Circuit, his wife and son Short Circuit get to live happily ever after.

Arshad Warsi impresses tremendously and is a prefect foil to Dutt’s comedic genius and Boman Irani is a welcome change from the typical Bollywood dad. (Anupam Kher and Satish Kaul)

The dialogues sound fresh, the jokes sell so well because they often are self deprecatory and irreverent. It helps the film that each and every performer displays perfect comedic timing.

If you haven’t watched this film already, I would urge you to give it a try and do not forget to check out the extra features on the DVD where the stars, the director and producers share their experiences on making this film.



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