Vishal Bhardwaj could be credited with two of Hindi film Industries most stunning portrayal and adaptation of Shakespeare’s works, Macbeth and Othello. I will speak only about Macbeth here today. Adapted into Hindi and rechristened as Maqbool, tells the story of Maqbool (Irrfan) the top henchman of Jahangir Khan (Pankaj Kapoor). Jahangir Khan happens to be the overseer of Mumbai and has over the years ruled its underbelly. Whichever political party has his support has the city of Mumbai and he is the God for the minorities. Maqbool is his right-hand man and also the one who will have accession to Jahangir’s throne. There however seems to be just one little problem. Nimmi (Tabu), Jahangir’s keep starts plotting against Jahangir and poisoning the mind of Maqbool with her sugar coated war mongering. With every scene she gradually develops an upper hand on Maqbool and takes him inches closer to committing the blasphemy that she had been nurturing him for.
Maqbool unwittingly falls in love with Nimmi and that in turns results in his meteoric rise and just as shocking failure. Purohit (Naseeruddin Shah) and Pandit (Om Puri) are the two cops who are responsible for maintaining law and order in the same city. Instead they decide to maintain balance and are left the only living treaty of the times and work of Maqbool. As Maqbool makes a go for the throne and keep of Jahangir Khan, the others in his gang revolt as do his inner demons. What is left to be seen is where destiny leads Maqbool to.
For all those who are abreast with Macbeth know exactly where the tale is going. That will however be the last thing on your mind when you are watching this gem. The plot quickly grabs hold of your attention. The story unfolds in a flurry of events happening all around the city. At first the narrative may seem in cohesive to many but gradually with the characters and the plots established, the story and the screenplay starts making complete sense. The rule of Jahangir, his vice like grip and the reverend status that he enjoys is established through some deftly done scenes. The scene where he gets an ACP transferred, the scene where he makes a pious henchman of his drink alcohol against his will and the scene where he merely glares at a man and he loses control of his tongue make you understand how difficult it is for Maqbool to stand up against this man.
The scenes on the other hand between Nimmi and Maqbool set up the course of events which would lead to the annexure of Khan. Nimmi literally seduces Maqbool and then makes him choose between her and Khan to which Maqbool obliges. The scene where she points a gun at Maqbool and forces him to call her “meri jaan’ gives us a startling insight into her psyche. Her constant war mongering and helpless pleading to be rescued from the clasp of a man who has held her against her will in a golden cage is heartening to watch. She goes on to the extent of showing Maqbool how his existence is going to be threatened by a new found love between Khan’s daughter and one of his associate’s son.
In the midst of all this chaos, we have our protagonist, Maqbool, torn between his love for Khan and the pull of his heart for Nimmi. The arrival of a new keep for Jahangir, further worsens Nimmi hold in the Khan household making it imperative for her to make way for the new keep thus destroying her life which in turns fuels Maqbool’s passion and senses to save her. Irrfan’s effective portrayal of a flurry of Maqbool’s emotions really make the film a journey into the psyche of man who is entrusted to kill the man he loves the most for the women he has fallen in love with. It is really a heartening experience and to experience it first hand on the Hindi screen is an even more uplifting experience.
Piyush Mishra and Ajay Gehi as Kaka and his son Guddu play roles of mammoth importance which impact the happenings just as much as the free wills of the protagonist and the antagonist. They are just as natural as one can be and add a dash of reality to an already real saga. The music plays another important part. Ustad Sultan Khan’s voice in the songs makes a magical impact on the audience. The simplistic tunes convey the exact emotions that needed to be. The story doesn’t stall during the picturization of the songs instead moves from one point to another. That proves to be another uplifting factor for the songs. The deep focus that is laid on the characters and their expressions during the songs also helps the cause.
Overall Maqbool is an Indian classic which will surely over the years gain a reverend stand. It has everything working in its favor. The top notch performances by the ensemble cast adds credibility to the already credible screenplay and takes the narrative to a whole new level. This is one film which should not be missed at any cost.