Mum Bhai Review

Crime thriller that says nothing new

Mum Bhai Review
Platform
ALT Balaji,Zee5
Format
Movie Rated
Genre
Crime,THRILLER
Language

The sheer number of films and shows that have now been based on the dark underbelly of Mumbai’s ‘80s and ‘90s crimewave, whether it be from the perspective of a mafia don, a lowly henchman, a mole in the system, a hooker who knows everything, or even an upstanding cop, is aplenty. It is itself a daunting task then, to make something within that genre that comes across not just fresh but also telling us something new. 

What is the story about?

In Apoorva Lakhia’s pat-on-the-back-for-that-title show ‘Mum Bhai,’ we have a little bit of all these characters. The plot itself is focused on an ATS encounter specialist, Bhaskar Shetty (Angad Bedi) who escapes dire circumstances and makes his way to Mumbai as a teenager. Having seen blood and violence up close, the naive Bhaskar trains to become a cop and from being the shy and vulnerable trainee, goes on to become the unlikely antihero of this tale whose vices include a lot of money and a lot of sex. The show moves back and forth between multiple timelines, up to the mid-2000s. Bhaskar learns to deal with dangerous criminals from his mentor Rama Shetty (Sikandar Kher). He gets into a business-like alliance with a smart-talking accountant Vaishnavi (Sandeepa Dhar) who helps him ‘launder’ some of his illicit earnings. He constantly gets into gripes with fellow officer Karekar (Sameer Dharmadhikari). And of course, there’s a reporter covering it all, Nitin (Vishwas Kini). Bhaskar rises to become the foremost encounter specialist in the squad, but his downfall is pre-empted early on in the show and the season goes on to establish who is responsible for putting him behind bars. 

Analysis

To give credit where it’s due, Mum Bhai is not a slow-paced show. For an action drama, it has a jam-packed and fast-paced screenplay where something important is being established in every scene and every episode. The way the show is structured, Bhaskar’s most important relationships that will determine his present and future are established quickly and effectively, making us invest in knowing what happens with him next. The writing also puts important plot twists at the end of many episodes, specifically the first, third, and seventh, which catch you off guard and you’re compelled to keep watching. 
 
Bhaskar, Rama and his wife, Vaishnavi, Karekar, etc. are certainly not uninteresting characters. Bhaskar himself goes through an arc in the series from the simple boy with big dreams to a young rookie at police training, then on to the ATS as an aggressive recruit, and finally, a no-fucks-given cop who loses himself in the decadence of his misdoings. In all of this, in spite of the show being set in a different time period, Vaishnavi too holds a lot of power and clout in Bhaskar’s life. Rama has a lot of influence on Bhaskar and the decisions he makes, and yet this one, even if extremely colourful, is neither consistent nor completely utilised as a powerful supporting character. 
 
But even with some interesting characters, and enough twists and turns, one can’t help but feel that ‘Mum Bhai’ is something that we’ve either already seen before or it reminds us of one of those many films and shows about crime in Mumbai in the 1990s. The screenplay is unimaginative. There is a lack of structure to the plot, especially with all the jumps between scenes and timelines. And the invocation of nostalgia seems more hackneyed than homage. 
 
‘Mum Bhai’ at no point comes across as a period drama and could very well be set in the present day. The dialogues, costumes, production design, overall look and feel of the show seems average-contemporary and not at all reminiscent of the decade in which Ram Gopal Varma was at his peak. The show also follows a similar treatment to other such shows in the genre where violence, sex scenes, and explicit dialogue are the norm of the day. 

 

Performances

Most of the actors in Mum Bhai do a decent job. No one except Sandeepa Dhar stands out specifically. But Dhar definitely holds her own in a series dominated by the male gaze. 

Music & Other Departments

The production value of Mum Bhai is pretty average, and at many places, the sheer shoddiness in cinematography and sound is an obvious clue for budgetary constraints. The show has a title song which was catchy when released as its main anthem, but since it has been used for every major sequence in the show (which means that it is played every 10 minutes), this song will now haunt my dreams. The sound design, dialogues and score are dated. There is a clear inconsistency in the way the show has been shot, directed and produced, but the show has been edited well. 

 

Highlights

As is expected with a crime thriller, Mum Bhai is not boring. The episodes are timed at an average of 17 to 25 minutes, so it goes by rather quickly. It is an alright addition to the violent gangster canon. 

 

Drawbacks

Still, the plot doesn’t have anything new to say. There are several moments that require a darker, more brooding intensity which we have seen in the works of RGV, but no such moments exist in ‘Mum Bhai.’ In fact, there are several other crime thrillers streaming at the moment which are lightyears more original and inventive. ‘Mum Bhai’ seems one-tone and dull. 

Did I enjoy it?

Not really. I feel like I could have done something more productive with my time. But I couldn’t look at other things either because something or the other was always happening. 

 

Do I recommend it?

Not immediately, but on an afternoon with no plans… if you crave a crime thriller… you can give it a shot. Keep hopes minimum. 

 



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