Mohalla Assi Movie Director: Chandraprakash Dwivedi
Mohalla Assi Movie Cast: Sunny Deol, Sakshi Tanwar, Ravi Kishan, Saurabh Shukla,
Mohalla Assi Movie Review star rating: 2/5 stars Two stars out of five
Hindi litterateur Kashinath Singh’s Kashi Ka Assi, finally hits the big screen as Mohalla Assi after almost waging a mini-war with the censor board to get here.
A topic that is very close to director Chandraprakash Dwivedi’s heart Mohalla Assi finds a home. In the Assi Ghat on the bank of the Ganga in Banaras. The film is a stark reflection of the turbulent religious-political times of the late 1990s.
Mohalla Assi revolves around the life of Sanskrit teacher, Pandit Dharmanath Pandey played by Sunny Deol, and his earthy wife and very vocal wife Savitri played by Sakshi Tanwar. Panditji swears by the Scriptures and his beloved river Ganga. To him both are a=sacred ant the rest is commercial blasphemy
Sanskriti or culture and Parampara or traditions are often trumpeted as the reason for inaction or action in a film that takes a close hard look at the dynamic of religious politics and the place it holds in the hearts of the people of this temple town.
There is a certain earthiness to everything that happens at the Assi Ghat from its influx of foreigners and how the locals please and loathe them to the cuss words that are all pervasive in the locals’ dialect and the tea stall discussions that are very much part of the weave of fabric in these parts.
What comes out very strongly through this film is the words of one of the protagonists of the film who says, “Has a grand mandir ever been built with bricks?”. This film in that respect has made many statements that are telling of the political thought behind a religious stand.
As for the acting, the staid Panditji and his brash wife play out their part as only seasoned actors can. Helping along the way with his wit and charm is the street-smart tourist guide Ravi Kishan who weaves his way through affairs of dogma and the heart with equal ease
While the first half is all head the second half is all heart and between the two the effect of a hard-hitting drama is lost. The film which is set in the 90’s a time when the Mandal Commission, the Ram Janmabhoomi movement, and the Babri Masjid demolition all fashioned history for India could have been a hard-hitting commentary on the place and its people instead it goes micro and loses its effect among loud mouth abuse and family politics
While the first half of Mohalla Assi is well scripted and sculpted the second half loses its way in loud slogan shouting. My Mohalla AssiMovie review 2 stars out of five 2/5 stars