‘Mast Mein Rehne Ka’ movie review: A low-rent delight

A still from ‘Mast Mein Rehne Ka’

A still from ‘Mast Mein Rehne Ka’
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

At the start of Vijay Maurya’s otherwise life-affirming Mast Mein Rehne Ka, we see an old man, played by Jackie Shroff, sitting alone at a beach, glumly looking out to sea. He rises and enters the waves. A fisherman calls out to him to stop, but he doesn’t. The scene cuts abruptly to a darkened bedroom; the man was only dreaming. He springs up from the bed, does some light stretching and hums a tune. Before the anxiety wears off and he leaves for his early morning jog, he stands in front his late wife’s portrait, gesturing regretfully, with tears in his eyes.

The man, VS Kamath (Shroff), is an average old retiree in Mumbai. He has been a widower for 12 years, living alone in a large house. He is the solitary sort, keenly observing his fellow joggers but never making conversation. After a burglary leaves Kamath grievously injured (though, much to his dismay, entirely alive), he agrees to mend his ways. He courts a friendship with the chirpy, foulmouthed Mrs. Handa (Neena Gupta), also a lonely soul like him. Theirs is a polite yet awkward romance: “You are a Madrasi from Karnataka…,” she declares on their first date.

Mast Mein Rehne Ka (Hindi)

Director: Vijay Maurya

Cast: Jackie Shroff, Neena Gupta, Abhishek Chauhan, Monika Panwar, Faisal Malik, Rakhi Sawant

Run-time: 127 minutes

Storyline: A housebreak connects two couples – one young, the other old — in Mumbai

As is evident from its carefree title, Mast Mein Rehne Ka is a Mumbai film through and through. A single romance won’t do; multiple narratives must jostle for space in this ode to a city of over 20 million. Thus, in tandem with the elderly couple, we meet an out-of-luck tailor and a girl he befriends on the streets. Maurya, an actor on iconic films like Paanch and BlackFriday, is perhaps best known as the dialogue writer for Zoya Akhtar’s street rap musical Gully Boy (2019). He gets the city slang (“halke ke mein mat lena” is the very literal phrasing for “don’t take me lightly”) but also its maddening chaos and blind spots, like how a boisterous wedding band can drown out someone’s genuine cries for help.

Jackie Shroff is a delight as Kamath, with his slightly crooked walk and oil-slicked hair. There is also a fun cameo by Rakhi Sawant as a minor-league dance instructor. Maurya’s film — with its references to nasal hair, dog poop and B-grade horror productions — is hardly reaching for wider acclaim. It’s too comfortable in its own skin to mimic the arthouse interconnectedness of Dhobi Ghat (2010), or the sustained melancholia of The Lunchbox (2013). Still, there are lessons here that can be touching. This is a light-hearted film, but don’t take it too lightly.

Mast Mein Rehne Ka is streaming on Amazon Prime Video

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