One line Review: Begum Jaan, the brothel owner along with her girls tries to save their home from the burning fire of the partition.
Positive Points: The strong performance of Vidya Balan and other supporting actors work for the film.
Negative Points: The intensity and the seriousness of the storyline is somewhere lost in the overly dramatic presentation. There is hardly any light moment in the film that leaves the viewers very difficult to take in all the starkness.
Plot: Begum Jaan (Vidya Balan), owner of the brothel is a fierce and stubborn woman who is concerned with only one thing and that is ‘dhanda’. Although, she is a strong woman but also has a softer streak for her girls and is like a strict guardian for them. All the girls obey her rules and respect her for they have been living under her protection for years.
On morning Begum Jaan and her girls were informed about the partition of the country that the freedom has brought along. Two officers INC leader Hariprasad (Ashish Vidyarthi) and Muslim league leader, Illyas (Rajit Kapoor) from India and Pakistan respectively, visit Begum Jaan’s brothel to notify them that due to the partition by British officer Cyril Radcliffe, the brothel will face a division one part of which will go into Hindustan and the other in Pakistan. Now, the girls and Begum Jaan who refuse to leave their brothel are faced with hell thereafter.
Direction and other Technical Aspects: Srijit Mukherji’s Begum Jaan works well in parts. But, the gruesome presentation is haunting and heart wrenching. The overly dramatic sequence, unnecessary side stories somehow subsides the intensity of the interesting plot. The back drop of the partition could have been a lot more impactful if appropriate sequences were allotted for it. The movie was 2 hours 14 minutes long but sitting through it seems forever. The cinematography and background is good. The dialogues are ear piercing and powerful.
Performances: Vidya Balan is a power house performer and remains the same throughout the film. She is strong, fierce and manages to pull off this difficult role with ease. She carries the whole movie on her able shoulders.
There is a line up of supporting actors in the film. Performances of Gauhar Khan, Pitobash, Pallavi Sharda and Vivek Mushran make an impact. Naseeruddin Shah and Chunky Pandey have average cameos. Actors Ashish Vidyarthi, Rajit Kapoor and Rajesh Sharma are good.
Music: The songs that play in the backdrop smoothly become a part of the narrative.
Final Verdict: Begum Jaan is not for the weak hearts. It will wrench your heart and leave you drained mentally. Its ruthless presentation may appeal to some while it can put off some but, will definitely make a thought provoking impact at least for a few minutes on everyone.