'Meerabai Not Out': Ridiculous!
Review by Deepa Gahlot
Mandira Bedi has been deglamorised to oily plait, geek glasses, and churidar-kurtas that could have been picked up at Dadar market. She is converted to Shivaji Park's Meera Achrekar—maths teacher and cricket fanatic. (For those outside Mumbai, Dadar and Shivaji Park are traditional Maharashtrian-majority areas of the city.)
Her mother (Vandana Gupte—perfect casting), brother (Mahesh Manjrekar--unrecognisable) and sweet-natured sis-in-law (Pratiksha Lonkar) worry about her single status, and her fellow teachers at the school bitch about her, since she is a favourite with the students.
Mills & Boon ought not to have intruded into this modak-and-poha idyll, but it does, in the form of Dr Arjun Awasthi (Eijaz Khan), who is bowled over by Miss Achrekar. She is soon converted to contact lenses and trendy hairstyle, but her passion for cricket is not dimmed, and that proves to be her undoing in the eyes of Awasthi Sr. (Anupam Kher). When she fails to turn up at her own engagement because a match is on, he reasons that some people are just not meant for the mundane duties of domesticity.
If a film really has the courage to even debate this line of thinking, one will stand up and applaud, but no, having the heroine stay single, weepy and apologetic won't do, and how the 'problem' is solved is so far-fetched as to be ridiculous.
Director Kulkarni (coming via the route of theatre and Marathi films) is obviously quite comfortable with the middle-class Maharashtrian milieu and this is portrayed with accuracy and affection. But instead of coming across as independent minded his heroine Meera turns out as childish and eccentric— Guddi (of the 1971 film) had a redeeming feature, she was a school kid, while Meerabai is a grown woman, who ought to know the difference between reality and fantasy; or at least have the ability to stand her ground, for whatever it's worth. Odd too, that Meera's cricket team has no girls—indirectly the film says that it is a man's world, women have to eventually return to the kitchen.
Still the film has some nice scenes, like the cricket duel between the brother and the boyfriend. Mandira Bedi is utterly likeable as Meera and makes no attempt to let her glam image intrude ("I wear more clothes," she yells at someone who comments that she looks like Mandira). But the film won't last an over on the multiplex pitch.
Source: India Syndicate
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