Not watching ‘Begum Jaan’ for now, but here’s what I wrote about the original, ‘Rajkahini,’ after I caught it at the Chennai International Film Festival:
A man behind me loved the dialogues in Srijit Mukherji’s intermittently powerful, eminently watchable period drama Rajkahini. He kept applauding. It’s the art-house equivalent of wolf whistles during a masala movie. I call Rajkahini “intermittently powerful” because the film – unlike, say, the director’s earlier Baishe Srabon – is let down by an overly familiar storyline (oppressed sex workers rise in revolt) that could be described as Mandi-meets-Mirch Masala. The oldness of the storyline isn’t so much a problem as Mukherji’s inability to infuse much newness into it, despite the Partition-era setting.
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