Why “Mulshi Pattern” is ages better than “Antim”

Om Bhutkar as Rahul
  • Release Date: 23/11/2018
  • Platform: Zee5
  • Cast: Om Bhutkar , Sunil Abhyankar, Kshitish Date, Upendra Limaye, Mohan Joshi
  • Director: Pravin Vitthal Tarde

Salman Khan starrer Antim: The Final Truth was released in theaters this week. It is a remake of the Marathi hit Mulshi Pattern and is directed by Mahesh Manjrekar who played an important character in Mulshi Pattern and is also credited with making one of the best commercial gangster- films of Bollywood, Vaastav. I always knew that Manjrekar would make a watchable film out of Antim even with all the restrictions and interferences that are to be expected in a film that stars Salman Khan and through which he is trying to reinvigorate the fledgling career of Aayush Sharma. However, it was only after I experienced Mulshi Pattern first had on Zee5 that I realized how much better it was in every department from its commercial, pretentious, and unnecessarily glamorized Hindi remake.

Through this piece, I would only try to highlight some of the many things that make Mulshi Pattern a far superior film both in terms of entertainment value and cinematic payoff.

The execution:

Mulshi Pattern begins with a deadly attack on the life of its protagonist, Rahul (Om Bhutkar) in a crematorium. Rahul somehow escapes from the crematorium and runs for his life through the city until he arrives at the same place from where his blood-soaked tale began. The entire film is shown as a series of flashbacks juxtaposed with Rahul running away from his assailants and stumbling here and there on the road. This gives the entire tale a stunning kinetic energy and ensures that the audiences are always on their toes in terms of the narrative. Due credit also has to be given to the fact that even the flashback sequences culminate at a breakneck pace. Characters are shown doing important things first and their introductions are done later. The results of an action are discussed or shown first and the actions are recounted later. This gives the film an emotionally affecting and brutally realistic feel even though it feels haphazard at certain junctures.

The stunning rendition of the protagonist by Om Bhutkar:

Om Bhutkar gave me chills with his performance as Rahul. He is the embodiment of evil for almost 80% of the film. He is forced into the world of crime because of his predicament and hot head. Having said that, there is still no denying the fact that once in the world of crime, he does just as much evil as the people who had forced his family out of their lands and then their village. The director doesn’t try to justify the things that he is shown doing and Bhutkar himself is just as unabashed in his depiction of the evil that he is shown doing. The fact that he looks like someone who could be a simpleton and then metamorph into a raging criminal capable of unimaginable evil only adds to the realism and charm of his essay. He is unkempt, thin, deglamorized, and ordinary. He hauntingly depicts the craze that gradually takes over him as the story progresses. I believed that Aayush’s act in Antim was a good depiction of a man who was gradually slipping into an abyss. That was until I saw Om Bhutkar in Mulshi Pattern. He reminded me of Manoj Bajpayee’s iconic Bhiku Mahatre from Satya.

Stellar Supporting cast led by the director himself:

The director, Pravin Tarde leads from the front an ensemble cast that has veterans like Mohan Joshi, Upendra Limaye, and Sunil Abhyankar. Tarde plays Nanya Bhai, the goon who brings Rahul into his folds and is subsequently killed by him. His essay is short but in the screen time that he has, he leaves a telling impression. I was confused about how to feel about a character like that. While he is always good to the protagonist and does everything right for him, we hear of Nanya’s exploits from a past life and see him do things that make him repulsive and an embodiment of unadulterated evil. Tarde not only is animated in his rendering of the character but also has the kind of physicality that was needed to leave a certain kind of impact.   

Mohan Joshi as Rahul’s father

Mohan Joshi is sensational. He plays Rahul’s father who had bowed in front of the Land Mafia to ensure the safety and security of his children. Now that he has sold off his land for pennies and has also been forced out of his village, he receives nothing but contempt from his son. Rahul believes that his father’s cowardice cost them a good life. Joshi brings the nuances of the tragedy and frustration of a man who was once a celebrated bodybuilder and knew wealth and prosperity is heartbreaking. He speaks as much with his expressions and eyes as he does with his mouth. He is in many ways the moral compass of the film.

Upendra Limaye plays the cop who is hell-bent on destroying organized crime and he intends to do so by pitting the gangs against one another. This is the character that was taken over by Salman Khan in Antim. While Limaye’s screen time is considerably lesser than that of Salman Khan and he doesn’t have a single action sequence in the film, he somehow manages to have an overbearing impact on the entire film through the brief moments that he makes an appearance in. His act is like the presence of a large chunk of dark clouds in the sky. Clouds that we know are far away but can very well rain down on us affecting our lives in different ways.

Cinematography, editing, and technicalities:

Mulshi Pattern is shot in vivid colors with the perfect use of a range of different shots and subtle use of slow motions in places that elevate the sequence through the speed of the unfolding of a particular action. The close-ups are used to highlight the emotional and mental state of the characters and are critical to understanding and absorbing certain sequences. The film feels crisp even in its 2 hours plus runtime and that goes on to show how well edited it is. The editing is not just good at a scene-to-scene level but also excels at the cuts that make up a sequence. The violence is depicted intelligently. Most of it is suggestive that not only lessens the use of blood and gore but also makes it even more disturbing by leaving the violence to the audience’s imagination.

Upendra Limaye as the inspector

Music and background score:

It is hard to imagine that I am even pointing out the music and the background score in a crime drama but that is for the reason that they play an important part in this film. The background score or the songs are never overbearing like what we got in Antim but only add to the feeling that a particular sequence is trying to convey. The songs are in keeping with the milieu in which the story unfolds and add to the authenticity and likeability of the film. This was not the case with Antim that even had an item number by Waluscha De Sousa which was not all that good either.

Final Words:

Mulshi Pattern borders on being almost as good as Satya. There are things in the film that could be questioned or nitpicked. However, that doesn’t in any way liquidate the overall impact of the film and the phenomenal work that the cast and the team have done on the story. I wonder how it would have turned out had Mahesh Manjrekar remade it scene-for-scene and forced out an equally poignant performance from Aayush Sharma. He could have also asked Salman to not be himself for once and play in the same lines as Upendra Limaye. I have a strong feeling that Antim would have ended up being a modern crime-drama classic.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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