Munna Michael review: Let's be honest, Munna is no Michael

Release Date: 21 Jul 2017 / 02hr 19min

Cinestaan Rating

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Shriram Iyengar

Tiger Shroff pulls off some acrobatic dance moves, and Nawazuddin Siddiqui provides some comedy in Sabbir Khan's film, but both are nothing new.

Sabbir Khan's Munna Michael had acquired quite a buzz as the first film in which Nawazuddin Siddiqui will be seen dancing. However, the film falls flat in its effort by being neither here nor there and wastes the little talent on screen. The tale of a dancer, rather dance hustler, who falls in love and teaches a gangster the meaning of love, makes for an interesting plotline, but it required better writing than the loose screenplay of this film.

The film begins with the tale of an old and hence out-of-work choreographer (Ronit Roy) who finds an abandoned baby in a garbage dump. He brings the child home and raises him to be Munna (Tiger Shroff). Attracted to Michael Jackson's music from the first day, Munna turns out to be a real talent with some snazzy moves and a sculpted physique. Credit here for finding some really talented young dancers to fill the montage of Munna growing up. However, to show a six-pack-sporting teenager dancing in front of a theatre screening Ae Dil Hai Mushkil (2016) and immediately cutting to a fully grown Tiger Shroff does feel a bit odd.

Munna makes his living out of hustling wannabe dancers in nightclubs till the day he beats up the brother of Mahender Singh (Siddiqui), a real-estate goon in Delhi. Thankfully for him, Mahender wants to learn dancing to impress the love of his heart, Dolly (Nidhhi Agerwal). Meanwhile, Dolly wants to win the 'Dancing Stars' contest to satisfy her own ambitions. This is the crux of director Khan's film, putting Munna Michael at the centre of two opposing journeys. In the end, Munna plays Mahender to keep the girl safe while helping her to achieve her dreams, thereby winning her heart.

The film has a couple of elements going for it. Shroff can move in ways that humans aren't meant to. At times, his flexibility allows you the rare moment of awe for the tensile nature of his fabrics and the designer's skill in keeping them together. Siddiqui, on the other hand, brings a natural menace to his character. Despite lacking the sculpted body, or the choreography, he is as menacing and real as the gangster-in-love as it gets. He also brings to the table his comic chops, which are quite good.

Agerwal does not have much to do, but does whatever little she has to do well. However, the actor in Shroff still requires training. His ability to emote is far inferior to his choreographed action/dance moves.

Therein lies the flaw of the film. It is good in parts but fails to bring them together as a whole.

Khan's screenplay moves chronologically but is not convincing. It is hard to identify with a dancer/hustler who protects a girl from gangsters but suddenly struggles with his conscience when it comes to telling a gangster friend (who is also married) to lay off a girl who is not interested. The end, when it comes, feels three scenes too late and is very predictable.

The end of a Shroff exiting a victorious dance performance to meet a Siddiqui, who turns into the generous loser, is cliched. There is even a current affairs message thrown in at the end about a girl not being a commodity to win, and why her consent is more important. The message is a good one, but comes at the end of a film in which the hero works as a love doctor to help a married gangster win a girl who is not interested.

The scenes in the film seem to have been hurriedly put together to keep the plotline progressing but they do not make it interesting. Even the scene of Munna and Dolly hanging out late at night in Delhi, dancing to 'Chor Bazaari' from Love Aaj Kal (2009), feels forced.

Shroff does well to show off his dancing skills, and his physique. It is hard to remember any other actor who likes to wear as little clothing and show off his pectoral assets as the younger Shroff (Salman Khan, perhaps!). Ronit Roy's cliched father-turn makes it another disappointment for a talented actor. Pankaj Tripathi as Siddiqui's lecherous younger brother seems jarringly out of place. Despite this, Siddiqui delivers. The actor has a couple of intense scenes where he makes a mark. At some points, his reel and real characters collide, particularly in lines like "42 running waale hero nahi ban sakte kya [Can't 42-year-old men become heroes]?" or "Kalaakaaron ka bhi haq hota hai apni life khushi se jeene ka [Artistes too have the right to live happily]". He remains the meagre saving grace for the film.

Shroff's action moves, captured in slow motion, feel like graceful gymnastic performances. He tries hard to bring Michael Jackson alive on screen. But Shroff is the lead of a film, while Jackson acted in music videos. There is a difference between Munna and Michael. As the bard said, "therein lies the rub".