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Murder Mubarak Review: A Delicious Mix Of An Engaging Whodunnit & Social Satire

'Muder Mubarak' is streaming on Netflix.

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Watching a film like Knives Out comes with an additional layer of interest for me – to sit down, notebook and pen in hand, and try to figure out if I can catch the culprit before the detective can. It is a frustrating task, a frustration I bless myself with really – if I don’t succeed, I lose and if I do, the film loses its magic. But even then, it’s the former I find more enticing. And that is why I think rather highly now of Murder Mubarak. 

'Muder Mubarak' is streaming on Netflix.

The film is based on Anuja Chauhan’s Club You To Death and directed by Homi Adjania and is an example of how an author and a director’s vision can co-exist. People haven’t been able to capture the hilarious charm of Chauhan’s books – I haven’t had the pleasure of reading Club You To Death yet but the Chauhan charm is omnipresent. 

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The whodunnit set in high society is so over-the-top that you would expect it to derail because of how caricaturish the characters are. But it stays afloat, especially because of how much fun the actors are having. One of my personal favourites is Tisca Chopra as Roshni Batra who only loves one thing more than gossip, her son Yash (Suhail Nayyar) who is dealing with a drug addiction. 

'Muder Mubarak' is streaming on Netflix.

Then there’s Rannvijay Singh (Sanjay Kapoor) who insists everyone calls him ‘hukum’ and hands out 20 rupee tips, Karisma Kapoor as superstar Shehnaz Noorani who is as unreachable as the astars, socialite Cookie Katoch who is rarely sans drink, and Akash Dogra (Vijay Varma) who, his parents claim, was “turned leftist” by his girlfriend and who has a will-they-won’t they-did they moment going on with the entitled but charming Bambi Todi (Sara Ali Khan).

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In a way similar to Gulmohar, Adjania juxtaposes the lives and personalities of the elite with the working class, primarily through a caretaker with dementia Guppie Ram (Brijendra Kala), a waitress (Amaara Sangam), and a hairdresser Ganga (Tara Alisha Berry). 

'Muder Mubarak' is streaming on Netflix.

Chauhan’s work is known for the way it tackles the class divide and that is the best part of this film as well. For instance, the elite are so disconnected from ground reality that they call two trainers, one from Arunachal Pradesh and one from Karnataka, ‘twins’ – their racism is frustratingly casual. At another point, someone mentions November rain and one of them remarks, “Poor farmers” while sipping a drink in their massive club.

In another scene, Roshni comments, “Poor people should die young,” only to follow it with “What? Rich people can’t crack a joke?”

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After a playboy blackmailer Leo Mathews (Ashim Gulati) is found dead, everyone is a suspect and ACP Bhavani Singh (Pankaj Tripathi) is on the case. Tripathi plays a role that he has played multiple times before (with the added touch of a characteristic ‘hmm’) but thankfully, that charm is still working. Vijay Varma’s act is in the same boat of sorts where the character works because the actor is watchable. Varma and Khan don’t have the level of chemistry required to sell their story but even that is balanced by Sara Ali Khan getting to play a “character”. 

'Muder Mubarak' is streaming on Netflix.

She perfectly imbibes Bambi’s idiosyncrasies – whether it’s her empathy to the working class or the way she is herself a consumer of the murder investigation the way we are. It’s great to see Karisma Kapoor on screen again – who else could play the elusive star the way she does? The tragedy evident in her characterisation comes through purely because of how expressive her eyes can be. 

Murder Mubarak might not be the best whodunnit out there (this is a Knives Out plug again) but it keeps you on your toes enough to be engaging. The long runtime does mean that some of the charm begins to fade, the caricaturish nature begins to feel more noticeable but the film is saved by the way it ties everything together in the end. 

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The camerawork complements the director’s vision well – everything is shot exactly the way it should be. Where opulence is expected, opulence is delivered. Class rage becomes visible with the way the camera focuses on one over the other. The biggest setback to Murder Mubarak, however, is the background music. It’s the equivalent of how a laugh track can often derail a joke. 

'Muder Mubarak' is streaming on Netflix.

I loved watching characters in a flashback getting annoyed because the narrator wasn’t telling their story right or kept changing the details. Cinema is a medium that allows you to do so much so I truly appreciate it when people take advantage of the medium. I also enjoyed the way ‘Awaara Hoon’ from Raj Kapoor’s Awaara is used by someone to blackmail the rich – a clear connection between the crime-romance-class conflict similarities in both the films. 

While I see that we’re supposed to be invested in Akash and Bambi’s story, I enjoyed Bambi’s chemistry more with ACP Singh (not all chemistry is romantic). The two characters weirdly make sense together – their characteristics, that should have normally clashed, end up complementing each other. 

'Muder Mubarak' is streaming on Netflix.

Murder Mubarak never forgets its own point though in service of being a ‘kooky’ show – the prejudices it is calling out are always at its heart. Even the most superficial of characters gets dissected under the microscope to reveal stinking hypocrisies that even we, as viewers, might subconsciously or consciously carry around. The film might not be a scathing indictment of society at large but it is still immensely watchable because of the sheer effort that is evident.

Rating: 3.5/5

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