The last time an Anurag Kashyap film did some kind of business, it was back in 2012 when his Gangs of Wasseypur released. The film may not have been a major commercial success but today enjoys a cult following for itself. However, in the interim period he has faced commercial disappointments in the form of Ugly, Bombay Velvet and Raman Raghav 2.0.
Now that he is returning to the big screen with Mukkabaaz, there are good hopes that Anurag Kashyap would be 'striking back' (pun intended) with his latest endeavor.
The film's promo is out and what makes it special is that instead of being a regular dialogue affair with the hint of a song or two thrown in, there is a theme track that plays in the form of 'Paintra' with a few interim dialogues as interspersions. Moreover, there is a definite Anurag Kashyap feel to the entire three minute long affair as you get seeped into the world of the lead protagonist (played by Vineet Kumar Singh, a regular with Anurag Kashyap in largely supporting roles so far) for whom boxing is passion.
Of course there are hurdles in the form of Jimmy Sheirgill who represents the elite class, somewhere up North of India (is that Uttar Pradesh?). On the other hand support comes in the form of Ravi Kishan (just the perfect case of casting) who is happy to share his life experiences with the lead protagonist. Add to that the strong undercurrent of love that Vineet has for newcomer Zoya Hussain and there is a perfect small town action-drama 'masala' entertainer in the offering.
While the film is indeed in Anurag Kashyap territory, by all means it comes across as one of his most commercially viable affairs. Could this also be due to the fact that the name Aanand L. Rai is associated with Mukkabaaz? Well, seems like because the director of Tanu Weds Manu Returns knows a thing or two about projecting small towns perfectly well on the big screen and while creatively this is still an Anurag Kashyap film in the offering, somewhere in the background there does seem to be Aanand L. Rai influence that is seemingly coming in handy.
It is a known fact that Aanand L. Rai and Eros have come together to create or present a series of films, considering the likeminded appeal that the two carry. In case of Mukkabaaz too, Eros seems to be taking forward the mantle of backing solid subjects that they have already demonstrated in the recent times, case in point being Shubh Mangal Savdhaan and Newton. Now that they are associated with Mukkabaaz as well, it is a heartening sight to see a major corporate house backing the kind of content that deserves to find a pan-India audience.
While Aanand L. Rai and Eros are doing their bit, one waits to see what has Anurag Kashyap offered as a whole. In Toronto International Film Festival 2017 the film was premiered and was by and large appreciated by media as well as audiences alike. One just hopes that 'aam junta' of India appreciates the film as well once it releases all over on 12th January 2018.