Munna Michael Review (No Spoilers): We Laughed and Laughed and Laughed!

Well, that was a super fun movie to watch!  But not because it was a good movie.  Oh my goodness was it bad!  To the point where we got the giggles about it.

Karthik commented on my Jagga Jasoos review asking why I don’t write like a grown up reviewer, and I can!  I really really can!  I just choose not to because it’s not my natural style, plus there’s a philosophical decision involved in writing in a way that keeps me as an equal with the reader instead of putting myself on a higher plane.  But this is a Munna Michael review, who cares what I do with it!  So, just for kicks, I will write it like a “real” reviewer, just for once, just to show you I can.  And then provide translation into “normal” Margaret speak in parentheses.

 

Sabbir Khan’s 3rd collaboration with Tiger Shroff includes the features that have become hallmarks of their artistic partnership.  A new heroine once again (Nidhi Agarwal following Kriti Sonam and Shraddha Kapoor), acrobatic fight and chase scenes heavily influenced by the recent martial arts films of central asia, and a plot that is familiar to viewers of Hindi cinema with the hallmarks of the melange approach to narrative.

(It’s a masala film with all the cool stuff stolen from other better movies from non-Hindi industries)

This film in particular highlights the dancing skills of its star, as you can surmise from the title.  Tiger’s technically brilliance in the dancing scenes is inarguable, however the same cannot be said of the choreography that is provided to him.  While other choreographers in India have provided homages and displayed influences ranging from Gene Kelly to Baryshnikov to, yes, Michael Jackson, the dances in this film disappointingly fall back on the same familiar steps that are routinely used in films such as ABCDs 1 and 2, and the Step-Up series from Hollywood.

(Tiger can move his body, but it’s still boring to watch somehow)

 

However, in those previously mentioned franchises, those steps are mixed with alternative styles, providing a certain richness to the overall flavor of the performances.  In this film, in contrast, the dances are all of a similar type, the equivalent of a meal made entirely of an entree with no side dishes.

(Lots and lots of robot style moves)

Our heroine, Nidhi Agarwal, initially is introduced through a performance intended to provide an alternative artistic tradition to the film.  However, while her character is a descendent of the classical Tawaifs such as the great Meena Kumari in Pakeezah and the timeless Rekha in Umrao Jaan, she is without the tragic depth those two actresses brought to their roles.  And her performance is without the soulful beauty they conveyed.  It is an empty dance, no delicacy to it.  A pale imitation of more complex variations on the dancing girl tradition relying heavily on what experts in the art of dance have called “haireography”.

(She’s a naach girl but all the “naach” is just hair flips and hip bumps)

(they knew it wasn’t good and didn’t even make the video available online)

Our heroine’s dancing may not be at the same level as our hero’s, but they are compatible scene partners during emotional moments.  Tiger’s distinctively opaque method of delivering dialogue is well matched by Nidhi’s naively simple method of reciting dialogue.  In the same way, the aesthetic of their characters is similar, both relying heavily on revealing rather than hiding their physicality.

(Tiger’s still a terrible actor and so is Nidhi, and neither of them ever wear enough clothing)

In contrast, Nawazuddin’s performance involves a certain amount of modulation in his dialogue delivery, as well as emotionality in his facial expressions.  This comes as a bracing contrast to Tiger’s chosen style, and to Nidhi’s developing techniques.

(Nawazuddin can actually act, which makes him different from Tiger and Nidhi)

Ronit Roy, the other senior performer within the film, opts for an alternative acting style.  Perhaps as an homage to his character, an aging junior artiste trapped in the past, he chooses to perform in a manner reminiscent of his early career when he appeared in such effervescent films as Bal Brahmachari.  His performance follows the standard that was common at that time, in the early 1990s, with a certain level of emotional honesty combined with performative orality.  Again, this is a bracing contrast to Tiger’s style, which follows a lack of both performativeness and orality.

(Ronit Roy acts like a goof in a bad 90s movie, which is still more interesting than Tiger choosing not to even bother)

Overall, I would recommend this film as an interactive experience, be prepared to provide your own narration and interpretation to certain scenes, and to discuss in great detail the aesthetic aspect of the lead performance.

(It’s fun if you make fun of it the whole time and like watching Tiger get shirtless)

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19 thoughts on “Munna Michael Review (No Spoilers): We Laughed and Laughed and Laughed!

    • Exactly! If it was a really good movie, I never would have written about it so seriously. I’ll probably never do this again. Unless Mubarakan defeats me.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Your “professional” review reads like you were bent on promoting Tiger and put him on par with the best in the business (Nawaz) — i.e., even a “professional” (sorry, your term was “grown up”, but Kartik wanted “professional”) review can eviscerate in the same lofty language (e.g. Pauline Kael — do they teach her nowadays in film studies?). Actually it reads like neither “professional” nor “grown up”, but a good example of academic turgidity, though still biased in favor of Tiger. 🙂

    Can we return to our normally scheduled programming now? 🙂

    BTW, films from “Central Asia”, or “East Asia?” (i.e., did they rip off a dvd from Kazakhastan, or Korea?)

    Like

    • Thailand. Pauline Kael, I do love her, isn’t usually taught in film studies because she isn’t quite at the level of the analysts we read, she didn’t have a really clear analytical angle in her writing, it was more just film by film what she liked or didn’t. I just read her for fun. Film studies stuff sounds like this. Pauline Kael to me sounds more like my regular stuff, just in language style that was in use in the newspapers/magazines of the mid-century instead of the style that is in use in the present day.

      If you think I was promoting Tiger, I think you may need to look up some of the meanings of the words I was using to describe him 🙂

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      • Thank you, I don’t need to look up any of your words. The point is that you used pretty much the same type of descriptions for the others. Reading your review, one wouldn’t really understand the huge gap between Nawaz’s acting and Tiger’s.

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  2. HAHAHA this is unfair come ON!! Lol! Did anyone even read that comment of mine first hand?!

    I only ACKNOWLEDGED it as a DISCLAIMER before my criticism! Of course you’re free to write as you please it is your blog!

    And come on even this “serious” review is kinda too much, almost deliberately poker-faced like deadpan sarcasm to make your point about boring it can be :p

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    • Hey, I read your comment! I read them all. But yeah, mostly it was an excuse to do something different and fun. I was looking at the computer screen thinking “how the heck am I going to come up with 500 words on freaking Munna Michael?”, and you saved me.

      On Sat, Jul 22, 2017 at 12:48 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

      >

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      • hehe cool, see? a fun exercise for you to break the monotony of a routine roasting review of a film every bit as bad as expected from the trailers. all because i got triggered by how rude you were to JJ!

        Haven’t Vikram Vedha and Lipstick released near you? Both are getting great reviews.

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        • Oh, it was hilarious at the movie theater last night. The parking lot was mobbed, we walk in and the lobby is packed. And then at 8pm when Vikram Vedha started, everyone disappeared except us, waiting for the 8:15 munna Michael. And then we walked in and there was one other couple sitting there who gave us a big greeting and said “we are so happy someone else wants to watch this!” So yeah, Vikram Vedha looks like a big bit hit at my theater.

          Which is why I won’t be seeing it this week, I am guessing tickets are at $18 and up. I’ll wait until next week or at least a weekday. Oh, and we HAD to see Munna Michael because Dina made me promise to see it or else she wouldn’t see Tubelight. It was a little movie suicide pact.

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          • Lol that reminds me of the kind of thing you had written about how distributors and theater owners strike unofficial deals to take the bad with the good films down the line!

            I assume she is a Tiger fan with all his dance moves and six packs or else there seems to be no other reason to watch.

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          • Oh yeah. Tiger fan, dragged me to this AND Baaghi AND The Flying Jatt. And bought Baaghi on DVD! But then I made her watch Dilwale and Happy New Year, so it all balances out.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Strange kind of lose-lose dynamic that! But yeah watching alone sucks even more esp for a bad film. The jokes and comments shared can break the boredom nicely.

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  3. Pingback: Munna Michael Review (SPOILERS): Made Me Think of the Whole History of Dance Films in India | dontcallitbollywood

  4. I hope it was funny. I do want to go watch it. For Nawaz. And Tiger. I haven’t watched a single Tiger film in the theatre. He always felt like he would do well in Zach Effron kind of films.

    I don’t know why is there this effort to project him as the next big action star when he doesn’t have the face for it. He looks too sweet for angry action sequences. Vidyut Jamwal looks barely convincing as the angry action hero and his action scenes are just as good as Tiger’s.

    I don’t want to read your review with spoilers because I want to watch this but I wanted to ask, which was the last Indian dance film that you watched that felt like an original choreography-wise? Or even a dance move from a song that was completely original and good.

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    • I think I like Tiger better in action than dance. He uses similar moves, lots of high kicks and stuff, but I somehow find it more interesting in the action. You are right though, he has a really sweet face. I want a director to figure out how to combine that, make him a kind of accidental action person or something, like he beats people up when hypnotized? Because you are right, the face doesn’t make sense.

      There are a lot of great dances! They just don’t seem to be in the big movies any more. Or are in big movies that end up being terrible. Befikre, with all it’s flaws, had really inventive song sequences with interesting dancing. The ABCD movies were good too. Rangoon, also with a lot of flaws, had a really interesting train song right at the beginning. Jagga Jasoos also had an interesting dance thing right at the beginning, in the boarding school sequence. Tu Hai from Mohenjo Daro. Anything from Mirzya, that was like nothing I’d ever seen before. And that’s just in the past year and a half.

      On Sat, Jul 22, 2017 at 11:01 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

      >

      Liked by 1 person

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