Malang Review (SPOILERS): Hippies Are the Worst

Don’t spoil yourself! Unless you already know a sex violence and magical young love story movie is not for you. In which case, SPOIL yourself! And laugh and laugh and laugh. This plot is real real dumb.

Whole plot in two paragraphs:

We start in the present, Christmas Eve, with violent killer cop Anil Kapoor getting a phone call from Aditya Roy Kapoor telling him there is about to be a murder. And then ARK kills a dude. Button down family man Kunal Khemu is called to the scene and he and Anil will investigate together. And then ARK flashes back six years to when he left home, tossing his family photos out in the trash, and headed for Goa. Disha Patani left London at the same time, tossing her phone and laptop. They meet in Goa, Disha explains that she wants to face all her fears and live free, ARK joins her, they fall in love. They make friends with Elli Avram, local drug dealer, and learn that she arrived like them and then when her money ran out, she fell into drug dealing and sex work to stay in Goa. At a party, the same night Disha learns she is pregnant, they see straightlaced rule following cop Anil Kapoor get into a shoot out while trying to arrest a dealer, and then ACCIDENTALLY SHOOT HIS OWN DAUGHTER!!!! Which lead Anil to become fully tattooed, a drug addict, and a wild unpredictable dirty cop, over the course of like 3 days. ARK takes off after he learns Disha is pregnant, but returns for her a few weeks later. Only when he arrived, he learned she was staying with Elli, went there, heard a crash inside, and started trying to beat down the door. INTERVAL

Post interval, in the present, the murder spree continues but Kunal is distracted by personal issues. He saw a text message on his wife’s phone just before he was called in to work that she is planning to leave him for another man. And then ARK is finally captured by Anil Kapoor, but gives himself in for arrest before he can he shot. Kunal takes the interrogation and turns off all the cameras, and then ARK asks him “why?” and Kunal tells his story. 6 years ago, he was about to be married and his friends were telling him about a loose foreign woman (Elli) who would do sex for money. He met up with his fiancee that night, and failed to get an erection and started to panic. He went to Elli’s house, but Disha was there instead. He tried to buy her by throwing down money, but she told him to get out and that real men don’t treat women like this. Infuriated, he attacked Disha, but ARK heard outside the door and broke in and hit him over the head. ARK and Disha called the police, only for Kunal’s police friends to answer the call. They arrest ARK and Disha, and then Kunal shows up and gives disha an overdose shot and throws her off the bridge. ARK is arrested and thrown in jail as a drug dealer. Story over, Kunal hands ARK off to Anil to be killed and goes home, to stop his wife leaving him. He starts attacking his wife and trying to kill her for leaving him, intercut with ARK telling his story to Anil and trying to stop him from killing him. Just as we think ARK will be shot and Kunal will kill his wife, a mysterious figure appears and gives Kunal an overdose shot. It’s DISHA!!!!! She didn’t die!!!! Elli saw her fall and saved her. Disha spent 6 years building a conspiracy board and tracking everyone, and then once ARK got out of jail they killed them all together. Kunal’s wife covers for them, ARK and Disha finally celebrate Christmas morning together in his family’s Goa mansion. HAPPY ENDING

Image result for malang poster

So, let me break this down. Disha and ARK have a wild no strings connection for a few months. Disha gets pregnant, ARK takes off, ARK returns and they promise to stay together, then the police capture them and try to kill Disha, she survives but loses the pregnancy. ARK goes to jail for 6 years, Disha remains in hiding and never visits him, and then they go on a killing spree together to avenge their lost possible child. So this couple spent a few months together, and then were apart for SIX YEARS, and yet love remained perfect and neither of them grew apart from the other? Also, during that 6 year period, Disha never thought to go home and heal her wounds with her own parents? Start a foundation to help young people lost in Goa, go back to school and become a social worker, do anything useful at all beyond building a murder board? This is insane, right?

Or is it insanely ROMANTIC???? Both of them trapped and tormented, dreaming of the other for 6 years. Avenging their dead fetus and killing as a team, because The Couple Who Kills Together, Stays Together??? Nah, pretty sure it’s just stupid, not romantic.

Anil Kapoor’s character is also a wincy bit stupid too. We see him in the flashback all proper and buttoned and telling his assistant that they should just follow the rules and arrest people and trust the courts. And then, after accidentally shooting his own daughter, the whole songlength montage taking him from buttoned up to Wild Man, just has to be a bit funny. Anil throws himself into it, totally over the top cocaine sniffs and gun slinging, but is that really how character progression works? One ridiculously implausible personal disaster and your whole personality changes within minutes? Okay, forget that part, is that how tattoo sleeves work? Anil can go from untattooed to full sleeves in the course of a weekend, while at the same time also finding time to become a drug addict and kill a bunch of drug dealers?

But Kunal Khemu’s character is GENIUS!!!! Introduced being proper and beloved by his in-laws family, as they gently twit his wife for STILL not being pregnant. Then when he sees text on his wife’s phone, just telling her “I love you”. It’s all just kind of odd feeling, until we learn he is impotent. That’s why he is afraid to really fight for his wife since it will bring up things he doesn’t want to discuss. That’s why he is so carefully perfect. That’s why his wife looks so truly terribly miserable about everything. And that is why he snapped and killed Disha, because it’s the “perfect” people who really can’t handle the possibility of not being “perfect”.

What our three male characters and three female characters say about Goa is also kind of genius. Here is a town with a long term isolated and unique community (the Goan Catholics like Kunal), a town with an average community of average Indians (the Maharashtrians Anil represents), and then the transient strange outsiders who come in from every where in the world and float around without settling. Anil is the middle ground, in the flashback he was an accepting guy who looked at the changes around him and adjusted, didn’t expect the world to adjust to himself. In the present day, he is still accepting the changes, just is more violent in how he reacts to them, if that makes sense. He is introduced doing drugs at a restaurant with the owner, casually leads the owner to admitting he killed his employee for refusing to help push drugs, then shoots the guy. Anil isn’t saying “outsiders like the Bihari employee don’t belong” or even “guy who sells/does drugs is evil” (after all, he does drugs himself), but he is saying “murder for your own convenience based on drugs and greed is wrong”. Kunal appears to be better, because he doesn’t adjust, doesn’t let the changes affect him at all, stays “perfect”. But that just means that he isn’t seeing these outsiders as real people, is living in his own fantasy world where nothing has changed. And finally, ARK. Who doesn’t see Goa as a real place, and his life there as “real” life, it’s just vacation. Until suddenly it isn’t.

ARK and Disha really are horrible people, blech! I don’t think I am supposed to dislike them quite as much as I do, but I think we are supposed to dislike them a little bit. They each get a wee bit of backstory, Disha raised by high achieving high pressure NRIs and ARK raised by rich people who got divorced which lead to him dropping out of life. But does that really excuse a life of wild partying and thoughtless hedonism? On the other hand, should it be punished the way Elli was punished?

And that brings me to the women! Amruta Khanvilar represents the Goan Catholic proper woman. Who is left sexually frustrated and also psychologically damaged by her “perfect” husband Kunal. If she had a little bit of the freedom Disha enjoys, she would be happier. But then, Disha’s life is so empty, if she had a little bit of the family sense that Amruta has, she would be happier. And Elli is the worst of everything, a young woman who arrived to vacation and got trapped. None of them are happy, none of them have power. Elli is trapped in a cycle of drugs and seeking drugs which will eventually kill her, Amruta is trapped in misery which will eventually kill her, and Disha is stuck in between, fleeing Amruta’s life by leaving home, but now heading towards Elli’s life.

I am super super happy with the reveal that Disha is alive, while also angry at how stupid it is, because of how it empowers the female story. That’s the biggest twist. We thought this was a story about men doing manly killing things, but really it is a story about women. Disha got pregnant, Elli helped her when ARK walked out, Elli saved her life again after Kunal almost killed her, Disha came up with the whole killing plan and struck the final blow, and in the end Disha saved Amruta who (unknowingly) set the whole thing in motion by making Kunal feel pressured to have sex. While the surface of Goa society has been changing with the violent dealers, cops, and young men streaming in, it is the women who are being punished the most. And in this film, the twist is that those women are the most deadly of all.

15 thoughts on “Malang Review (SPOILERS): Hippies Are the Worst

    • Yes! Everyone does drugs and kills and stuff in a gender blind way. Yay! And also, they are all terrible people doing things that seem very unappealing to me. Really, you just want to go to raves every night? With the loud music and flashing lights and staying up past 10pm?

      On Mon, Feb 10, 2020 at 12:27 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

      >

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  1. We petit bourgeois intended audience love punishment for nonconformity:
    1. We didn’t freewheel and deal across Goa for fun, instead we came to watch this movie.
    2. We vicariously live the lush, carefree life as the leads and then curse them for not being as commonsensical as us, pointing out point 1.

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  2. After months of waiting, I finally saw Malang! One thing is sure – it’s not bad but it won’t be my favorite Mohit Suri movie. I hate watching people doing drugs and the protagonists do almost only that so I was disappointed and bored. Thank God there were Anil and Kunal to shake the story. I must admit I had the goosebumps during Anil’s first scene. People say he overacted but for me, it worked. I was frightened. Kunal had his great moments too. I don’t remember which scene it was but I thought: It feels so good to see Kunal acting well after this horrible horrible Kalank!
    Overall the movie was a little too violent for me. Also, it looked like Marjaavan’s better and richer cousin. Personally I prefer Marjaavan because it was so over the top and fake, the violence didn’t seem real or scary, while in Malang it was too real.

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    • Isn’t Anil awesome in this? Yes, he is “overacting”, but it’s that kind of a role and that kind of a movie. If he had been underacting, it would have been a lot worse. And Kunal was great, he was underacting, but surrounded by all the craziness, that just made him seem creepier and was a great choice.

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    • Oh, and wasn’t Salman’s girlfriend good???? I legitimately did not recognize her from her real life photos, and her performance was great.

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        • She was the dreadlocks dealer/friend who helped them. Jessie. Elli AvRam is her name, she’s not officially Salman’s girlfriend but it was rumored, and she is definitely one of his protogees (Big Boss contestant)

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  3. “Amruta who (unknowingly) set the whole thing in motion by making Kunal feel pressured to have sex.”
    I got a problem with this line. You need to specifiy the way in which she was pressuring Kunal, because it wasn’t negatively. It was in a way how any person would want their relationship to progress when dating and then marriage. It was him that didn’t want to or couldn’t sleep with her because he couldn’t get it up. Your line makes it seem she negatively pressured him and that’s wrong.

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    • I think it is fine. I specificy she “made Kunal feel pressured”. She didn’t pressure him, her actions made him feel as though he was pressured. But he wasn’t.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

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  4. “Amruta who (unknowingly) set the whole thing in motion by making Kunal feel pressured to have sex.”
    I got a problem with this line. You need to specify the way in which she was pressuring Kunal, because it wasn’t negatively. It was in a way how any person would want their relationship to progress when dating and then marriage. It was him that didn’t want to or couldn’t sleep with her because he couldn’t get it up. Your line makes it seem she negatively pressured him and that’s wrong.

    Like

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