Puri Jagannath is of late on a flop streak and appears to have clearly lost his midas touch. Now that when Puri is dealing with his son Akash Puri’s first heroic action flick on his own production banner, obviously we expect more responsibility and sincerity in Mehbooba which has Neha Shetty as heroine. Is Puri back with this war based love film or will he continue to travel on the same old track?
Young guy Roshan (Akash Puri) from Hyderabad is severely haunted by his past life memories of being killed in Indo-Pak war. This develops into a fascination for Himalayas and he is soon to join the Indian Army. Onto his the same past life, there is also an obscure love story and he is still in search of an anonymous girl who is none other than Afreen (Neha Shetty) living in Lahore but moves to India for pursuing education. Once Roshan and Afreen face each other, they soon realize to be in love. However, there is a hindrance from Afreen’s family in Pakistan which opens the past life flashback of Pakistan soldier Kabeer (Akash Puri) and Indian girl Madhira (Neha Shetty). How are Kabeer and Madhira killed? Will they unite in this reincarnation as Roshan travels all the way to Pakistan to win his love?
Puri is generally known as an aggressive film maker who drives stories, scripts and narrations just based on his trademark protagonist characterization. For a change, Puri depended on a popular reincarnation love story template for Mehbooba to bring some truthfulness into his rather random scripting style. Unfortunately, the reincarnation love and war backdrops created haven’t got enough supporting material to pull off a satisfactory film. Sensibilities exhibited by director Puri in driving Roshan and Afreen’s love track went completely for a toss in holding the interest on past life romance of Kabeer and Madhira. With lots of false, unwanted and time tested episodes, Mehboba lost the track in crucial portions. Puri’s writing skills spark here n there.
Vishnu Sharma did a fabulous job with camera. Projecting the serenity of Himalayas or drawing the Indo-Pak boundary episodes or exploring the war atmosphere, efforts put on setting numerous blocks are clearly visible. Junaid Siddiqui’s editing is also a good work. Sandeep Chowta’s background score upgraded the essence in romance while songs also sounded ok. CGI used for war plane shots are good. Production values from Charmi controlled Puri Connects banner are top notch.
About performances, Akash Puri seems to be a promising talent to look forward. Despite his age and body frame did not suit for soldier character, he gave best shot at devoting for love. Body language, dialogue modulation and voice intensity, Akash thoroughly shined. Neha Shetty isn’t a stunning beauty yet has a commanding screen presence. Murali Sharma, Ashwini Kalsekar, Sayaji Shinde and others did their supporting parts well.
Lack of Originality
Unlike his past failure scripts, may be for the first time Puri fell into the trap of inspiring from other Indian language hit film scripts. Mehbooba is a weak blend of Telugu Magadheera and Hindi Gadar Ek Prem Katha. It sounds purely illogical and insensible when goons chase hero and heroine in heavy vehicles running through the fence at Indo-Pak border… are infiltrations between boundaries really that easy? Despite taking logics and cinematic liberties at will, Puri could not generate interest and excitement needed.
First half takes off on riveting note when titles roll on Indo-Pak war shots. Establishing Akash and Neha Shetty characterizations of being haunted by past life sets a good mood. Challenge to keep Akash and Neha face off is very neatly dealt with few pulsating moments. Songs are placed in reasonably good situations. These portions are a chill out of technicalities with acceptable romantic fragrance. Train scene and following interval block in Himalayas makes one to feel as if Puri is reasonably back in his form.
With lot more expected in second half, Puri fails to reach the target. Opening the past life flashback set in war torn village lying close to Line Of Control with Akash hailing from Pakistan Army and Neha as Indian girl, there is an immediate disconnect. Overstretched war episodes neglected the ripening of love story thus highlighting the unwise approach Puri adopted in dominating the war. Once flashback closes impelling Akash to drive into Pakistan and the follow up episodes are loathsome. Rehashing Gadar’s Islam Zindabad scene might connect with masses. Gate crashing Indian border with a lengthy action filled climax ends film on a happy note.
Overall, Mehbooba happens to be a good film for hero Akash Puri while his father Puri Jagannath continues to fumble more. Extensive efforts from technical team involved in making and Akash’s performance win Mehbooba 2.5 stars rating from CJ. Box Office performance has to be awaited for.