Tigmanshu Dhulia has attempted various genres, some masterpieces like Paan Singh Tomar and Haasil and some disappointments like Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster 3. Most of these movies were driven by some form of love. Take for example. Haasil, a political thriller driven by a love story, or Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster series, that is about twisted politics of selfish love. With Milan Talkies, Dhulia attempts a more light-hearted, frothier take on romance that has some of the staple elements of a boy-meets-girl-and-they-get-separated drama. Has Dhulia made Milan Talkies different from the rest of its peers? To some extent, he adds his elements but doesn't entirely own the process. 5 Reasons Why You Should Watch Ali Fazal- Tigmanshu Dhulia starrer Milan Talkies.
Annu Sharma (Ali Fazal) is an aspiring film-maker living in Prayagraj, then Allahabad. He makes local movies with his friends and earns money out of malpractices carried out during examinations. The friends hang out in a theatre called Milan Talkies (that live upto its name when it comes to the film's love story), owned by a genial Usman Bhai (Sanjay Mishra).
While helping out students desperate to pass their college exams, Annu meets Mythili (Sraddha Srinath), who herself is looking for an easy way to pass the tests. Sparks fly between them, which soon turns into a passionate romance. Mythili, however, is already betrothed to another man, and she is also fancied by the local bully (Sikandar Kher). Will Annu manage to have both his love story and directorial aspirations fulfilled is what the rest of Milan Talkies is all about.
If you are not aware of this, Milan Talkies has been in the development for quite a few years. The movie has seen a drastic change in cast, with actors like Imran Khan, Shahid Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra being considered, before the dice finally fell on Ali Fazal and Shraddha Srinath. Now with so many films in Bollywood being set in Uttar Pradesh and working well at the box office, Milan Talkies only needs to make an engaging premise. A job that the movie doesn't exactly follow through.
Interestingly, the first half of the film is more than decent. The adventures of Annu and his friends (played by some wonderful actors), especially their film-making and exam-setting, are fun to watch, even if the scenes don't often elicit guffaws. Annu's scenes with his father (Tigamanshu Dhulia), an aspiring actor himself, are also playfully charming. The romance between the lovebirds in these portions are also deftly handled by Dhulia, even if the track moves on a predictable pattern. Fazal and Srinath also share good chemistry that gives their love story some heft. Then the interval point arrives, with caste and right-wing politics coming into play in the love story, and things promising to get serious.
It is in the second half where matters take a spectacular nosedive. Dhulia now gives the romance a very Devdas-meets-Vinnaithandi Varuvaaya (Ekk Deewana Tha for you, Bolly-philes!) twist. Not a bad idea. But the second half of Milan Talkies lacks the passion of Devdas, the ingenuity of Vinnaithandi Varuvaaya and even the playful spirit of its first half. Predictability of the love story becomes even more of a concern here, and some of the important supporting characters remain underdeveloped or just one-note. Even the writing take a dip in these portions, like that scene where Annu and Mythili miss meeting each other during a shoot and this creates a misunderstanding. It might have built some tension for the moment, but doesn't impact the narrative much.
It is not that the love story loses the spark. The scenes where the couple tries to communicate with each other through means other than phones are nice, and so is the sequence where Mythili keeps a vigil at Milan Talkies waiting for Annu to arrive. There is also a delightful verbal confrontation between Annu and Mythili's folks, where Dhulia lets go off his comedic chops as an actor. Bar these scenes, though, the rest of the scenes post-interval underwhelms, including the disappointingly trite climax. Pulwama Terror Attack: Milan Talkies Will Not Release in Pakistan, We Stand in Solidarity Says Director Tigmanshu Dhulia.
It also doesn't help that the film doesn't keep its runtime in check. Milan Talkies also suffers from slightly shoddy editing. In a couple of scenes, we can see the jerks and cuts, and a portion in a Holi song sequence has one of the lead lip-sync to no lyrics. However, the dialogues deserve a special mention for having some sparks.
Watch the trailer of Milan Talkies below:
When it comes to the cast, Milan Talkies doesn't disappoint at all, even if not every character is polished well. Both the lead actors perform well in their roles. Ali Fazal is quite good in his romantic avatar, with the highlight being his monologue in the opening sequence set in the theatre. Shraddha Srinath, who was impressive in Tamil flicks Richie and Vikram Vedha, makes a confident debut in Bollywood as Mythili. She gets more scope the perform in the second half.
Sanjay Mishra, as always, steals every scene whenever he pops up as the friendly but exasperated theatre-owner. Tigmanshu Dhulia the actor impresses more in the film than the director in him. Ashutosh Rana and Sikandar Kher, fine performances and all, are stuck in characters that don't allow them to make a better impression. Deepraj Rana's role seems to be inspired by Mukesh Tiwari's Vasooli Bhai from Golmaal series.
- The Cast
- The Breezy First Half
- Some Moments in the Love Story
- Disappointing Second Half
- Lacklustre Narrative
With Milan Talkies, Tigmanshu Dhulia's attempt to make a light-hearted romance works only in parts, mostly due to the cast and the first half. At best, Milan Talkies can be savoured as a tolerable one-time watch whose love story sends out sparks but never ignites to a raging fire!