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Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Anurag Kashyap|
Aanand L. Rai|
Vineet Kumar Singh
Mukti Singh Srinet
Vineet Kumar Singh|
|Distributed by||Eros International|
|Box office||₹10.51 crore|
Mukkabaaz (transl. and internationally The Brawler; Hindi pronunciation: [mʊkkaːbaːz]) is a 2017 Indian sports drama film co-written, co-produced and directed by Anurag Kashyap. Jointly produced by Aanand L. Rai under his label Colour Yellow Productions and Phantom Films, the film stars Vineet Kumar Singh, debutant Zoya Hussain, Ravi Kishan and Jimmy Shergill in the lead roles. It follows Shravan Kumar (Singh) as an aspiring boxer, who falls in love with the niece of the boxing federation head, Bhagwan Das Mishra (Shergill).
Mukkabaaz was conceived by Singh who wrote it with his sister, Mukti Singh, based on his observation of several sportsperson's condition in the country. He then faced rejection from several producers but was accepted by Kashyap, who agreed to make the film if Singh becomes a real boxer. For the preparation, Singh went to Netaji Subhas National Institute of Sports, where he trained boxing for a year. Hussain also learned non-verbal language for her role. The script was written by Kashyap, Singh, Mukti Singh Srinet, K.D.Satyam, Ranjan Chandel and Prasoon Mishra. The film was edited by Aarti Bajaj and Ankit Bidyadhar, while Shanker Raman, Rajeev Ravi and Jayesh Nair served as the director of photography.
Mukkabaaz premiered in the Special Presentations section at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival and was also screened at the 2017 Mumbai Film Festival. It was released theatrically in India on 12 January 2018 and received mostly positive response from the critics with particular praise for Singh's performance. The film grossed ₹10.51 crore (US$1.5 million) at the box office.
Sharvan Singh is a struggling boxer who works for the local politician and head of the State Boxing Federation, Bhagwan Das Mishra. He drifts away after Mishra only makes him perform domestic tasks and errands rather than boxing training. Singh falls in love with his niece, Sunaina, who is mute. But her father tells him to get a job first before thinking about marrying her. For the job, Singh tries to get into state level tournament but is not selected because of Mishra. He then goes to Varanasi and is trained by Sanjay Kumar.
Singh defeats Mishra's boxer and wins a medal, after which he gets a job in the Indian Railways. Singh and Sunaina are married as per the latter father's promise. But, Mishra despises the marriage and threatens his brother to face the consequences. Singh tries to maintain between his job, training, family life and learning sign language on Sunaina's request. Meanwhile, his boss in the office tries to harass him by putting too much work pressure on him. Mishra gets Sunaina's father fired from his job and expels her family out of their home. They go to their ancestral village to live but are held captive by Mishra's goons in his village house. Mishra also breaks his brother's leg.
Later at Sanjay Kumar's house, both Kumar and Singh are attacked by mob after being falsely accused of eating beef. Kumar gets seriously injured in the attack and is admitted to ICU; Singh survives the attack. He then tries to find Sunaina but fails and meanwhile she is forcefully engaged by Mishra to a crippled businessman for money. Singh fights and qualifies to the final for national level tournament. Sunaina and his mother manage to call Singh and tells him about their whereabouts. Singh goes there and rescues Sunaina and her family. Mishra manages to disqualify Singh on health grounds but reinstates him after Singh apologises; Mishra also throws a condition that he will have to lose the match and retire from boxing. Singh loses the final match.
Actor Vineet Kumar Singh mentioned that he was not getting the kind of work he wanted in films. He then decided to write his own script on boxing, as he a sports backgroung and had been a national-level basketball player and played at six National Games at mini and sub-junior level. The idea of the film came to Singh based on his observation of the condition of sportsperson's in the country. He mentions: "I’ve seen lots of stories like this, which stayed with me over the years. I wrote this film because I wanted to play this character and I knew the only way to do that is by writing it myself." Singh wrote the script with his sister and basketball player Mukti Singh Srinet, in 2013 and was seeking a financer for it. He looked at the "player's struggles — those who couldn't find their way up because they couldn't land in the officials' good books; the bad conditions they lived, played and practised in". He mentioned a single incident that triggered the script was when he saw his senior, who had won several boxing medals and whose photographs had appeared in the newspaper, was "stealthily porting luggage" at the Varanasi Junction railway station to make ends meet. When Singh saw him, he was trying to hide his face behind the luggage. Singh said that the incident "really shook" him because he was also a sportsperson. He took inspiration from the story of some other players who worked as a sweeper or who sold their medals for some money. While he was pitching his script, Singh also worked on his stamina for the role by running, skipping and cardio-training for two hours every day. Singh had one condition that he would be the lead actor of this film, but no producer agreed on it.
Eventually, director Anurag Kashyap got to know about it with whom Singh had worked earlier on three films including Gangs of Wasseypur (2012), Bombay Talkies (2013) and Ugly (2014). Kashyap felt that the script was very similar to Rocky (1976) and asked Singh to show him a "Rocky" in India. Kashyap however, found one sequence in the script interesting where the protagonist tries to get a government job. He expressed two conditions on which he will make the film to Singh, that he is going to change the script a little and Singh should "need to look like a boxer". For Kashyap, boxing and the case of Narsingh Pancham Yadav, who was accused of doping, prompted him for the film. Singh said that he knew about the "politics, caste bias and power struggles in sports associations" but the social-political side in the script was derived by Kashyap. For the preparation, Singh could only find mixed martial art fighters in Mumbai who were expensive. After which Kashyap connected him to boxer Vijender Singh, who put him in touch with coaches in Patiala. Singh sold off all his belongings for money and left Mumbai the same night for the training, after Kashyap decided to make the film. The script was written by Kashyap, Singh, Mukti Singh, K.D.Satyam, Ranjan Chandel and Prasoon Mishra. Anand L. Rai called Kashyap and offered him to direct Manmarziyaan, but Kashyap said he wanted to make Mukkabaaz first. So they both agreed and decided to co-produce. In July 2017, it was announced that Kashyap and Rai are coming together for a film called Mukkabaaz.
Delhi's theatre actress Zoya Hussain makes her feature debut with the film, where she plays a mute girl. Kashyap had wanted to work with her after seeing her film Three and Half Takes, which he liked. To prepare for the role, Hussain spent several months learning non-verbal language from sign language expert Sangeeta Gala and the character's mannerism. Kashyap said that her disability in the film symbolises the lack of voice of women in her region. Ravi Kishan played the role of Sanjay Kumar, a failed boxer who teaches Shravan Kumar boxing. He was cast by casting director Mukesh Chhabra for the role. Rajesh Tailang was cast in the role of Shravan's father in the film. Jimmy Shergill was cast as the antagonist, Bhagwan Das Mishra, an upper cast don. Sadhana Singh was also cast in the film. Some real life boxers such as Neeraj Goyat and Deepak Tanwar also appear in the film.
Kashyap sent his second unit director Saqib Pandor, to record boxing tournaments on camera which were recreated as the state tournaments in the film. They witnessed a boxing tournament happening under the tent and without an audience as their own space was occupied. Kashyap also realised that after attending an actual boxing tournament in north India that there was no audience apart from "people in power who decide which boxer should represent the state, and who will not". Kashyap told him not to do the "filmi training" but to become a hardcore boxer. There are no boxing choreographers, action directors in the film. The film is set in Bareilly district of Uttar Pradesh and is inspired by several true incidents. Singh was trained for a year to play the boxer’s role by a coach, Anudeep Singh, who was coaching people for free and runs a garage. His story was also used for the research of the film. Singh did not disclose that he was preparing for a role in film to his coach. Kashyap also watched several Hollywood films that had boxing as its setting. The trainers said that Singh was learning boxing in the age when boxers retire. He was trained by several coaches including Anudeeep Singh and Harpreet Singh, who were former boxer and coach of the Indian boxing team, respectively. Singh trained for more than 700 days and was injured several times.
Singh's training began at Netaji Subhas National Institute of Sports, Patiala, a year before filming. During the training, he could not see the punches coming and took real beating everyday and also broke some ribs. Later, he learned how to counter and defend himself. In the film, he fought with real International-level boxers with no choreography and also broke a rib and his hand. Kashyap said that in sports film's the actors "expose themselves too much", whereas Singh "just disappeared" in the role. Mukkabaaz also deals with the issue of caste system and cow vigilantism in India. It was shot in Bareilly, Varanasi and Lucknow in May 2017. The film is singer-composer Rachita Arora's first film as a composer. She was recommended to Kashyap by Makrand Deshpande. She was doing a play with him and was standing outside a parking lot. Kashyap heard her song and asked her about its composer, to which she said that she composed it herself. Later, Kashyap signed her for the film. The film was edited by Aarti Bajaj and Ankit Bidyadhar, while Shanker Raman, Rajeev Ravi and Jayesh Nair served as the director of photography.
|Soundtrack album by Nucleya, Rachita Arora & Vineet Kumar Singh|
|Released||4 December 2017|
|Genre||Feature film soundtrack|
The film's album soundtrack was composed by Rachita Arora with Nucleya composing one song "Paintra". The lyrics were written by Hussain Haidry and Vineet Kumar Singh. One song, "Mushkil Hai Apna Meil Priye" was written by author and politician Sunil Jogi, which was based on his own poem. One song, "Blonde Balma", was deleted from the film. Singh wrote the lyrics of two songs after Kashyap wanted him to create a "desi rap", similar to the one he had written for Ugly (2014). The album was released on 4 December 2017 under the label Eros Music. The background score was composed by Prashant Pillai. The vocals were provided by Divine, Brijesh Shandilya, Swaroop Khan, Rachita Arora, Dev Arijit, Vijay Arora, Khushboo Raj, Deepak Thakur and Sukhwinder Singh.
The album generally received a positive response. Suanshu Khurana of The Indian Express called it "robust" and cited "Paintra" as "one of the better Hindi raps we've heard in a long time." Debarati S Sen of The Times of India praised the album and wrote: "You are left wondering about what deserves the maximum applaud — the creative music, the intelligent lyrics or the soulful."
|1.||"Paintra"||Vineet Kumar Singh||Nucleya||Divine||3:52|
|2.||"Mushkil Hai Apna Meil Priye"||Sunil Jogi||Rachita Arora||Brijesh Shandilya||5:54|
|3.||"Paintra" (Extended Version)||Vineet Kumar Singh||Nucleya||Divine||3:52|
|4.||"Bahut Hua Samman"||Hussain Haidry||Rachita Arora||Swaroop Khan||4:33|
|5.||"Bahut Dukha Mann"||Hussain Haidry||Rachita Arora||Rachita Arora & Dev Arijit||4:40|
|6.||"Chhipkali"||Hussain Haidry||Rachita Arora||Vijay Arora||3:28|
|7.||"Saade Teen Baje"||Hussain Haidry||Rachita Arora||Khushboo Raj||3:28|
|8.||"Adhura Main"||Vineet Kumar Singh||Vineet Kumar Singh||Deepak Thakur||2:57|
|9.||"Bahut Hua Samman" (EDM Version)||Hussain Haidry||Rachita Arora||Swaroop Khan, Rap: Jaspreet Jasz||5:18|
|10.||"Haathapai"||Hussain Haidry||Rachita Arora||Sukhwinder Singh||4:13|
|11.||"Blonde Balma"||Hussain Haidry||Rachita Arora||Kalpana Patowary||03:27|
Mukkabaaz had its premiere at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival and was also screened at the 2017 MAMI Film Festival, where it received standing ovation. A 21 second long audio teaser was released on 7 July 2017 with the voice of Ravi Kishan. It was followed by a poster launch on 7 December 2017, which showed Singh lying inside a boxing ring with blood on his face. The official trailer was released the same day. The film was earlier scheduled to release on 10 November 2017, but was pushed on the date of 12 January 2018. Mukkabaaz was released alongside Kaalakaandi and 1921 in around 1100 screens across the country. A special screening was held for the cast and crew before the theatrical release. The film is also available in DVD format.
Upon release Mukkabaaz received mostly positive review from critics with particular praise to Singh's performance. Rajeev Masand gave a positive response and said, "[..] populated by characters that are authentic and rooted firmly in the landscape, the film sees Kashyap on solid ground." He, however, felt the film was "overlong and occasionally rambling". Priyadarshini Patwa from MensXP.com wrote: "This new rendition brings together a cocktail mixed with the right amount of punches that keeps you hooked to the story." Anirudh Bhattacharya of Outlook felt the film was a "little heftier" and said, "..but this isn't Raging Bull, it's just rocky." Raja Sen called it Kashyap's best film made with "vintage filmi sensibility but highly modern skills". He also praised Singh calling him a "tremendous performance, not least because of his staggeringly authentic physicality". Rohit Vats of Hindustan Times commended both Hussain and Singh's performance and said that she is "at the lack of words, but her eyes are not" and a "performance we all will cherish for years." Vats also called it "the best film in last one year or so."
Renuka Vyavahare of The Times of India cited the film as a "total knockout" and wrote: "The not-just-a-boxing film must not be missed as it puts forth a message that's most relevant in today's world". Namrata Joshi of The Hindu wrote: "This is in no way a celebration of sports but a hard-nosed look at the rampant corruption, nepotism and casteist politics at the core of games, and life in general, especially their centrality in Uttar Pradesh." Saibal Chatterjee of NDTV praised the performances of Hussain and Zoya and the treatment of cow vigilantism and wrote, "Watch it because it is one of the more important films to have come out of the Mumbai movie industry in recent times."
Anupama Chopra praised Singh's physical transformation as well as the "internal transformation". She expressed her concern on the runtime of the film that "just wears you down". Mayank Shekhar wrote: "Mukkabaaz marks Kashyap's fab return to a realm he understands and expresses best -- with all its flaws, angst and humour, Tarantino-esque pop-culture references, making it all as distressing as it is frickin' fun and real." Shilpa Jamkhandikar of Reuters said that the film "tries to land too many punches, and in doing so, misses the mark." Rachit Gupta of Filmfare felt it was Kashyap's "most mature film to date" with "bits of Rocky On the Waterfront and "a whole lot of Romeo & Juliet". Nandini Uday Bhatia of Mint called it the "bracing start to the movie year" that is "overstuffed, enjoyable and urgent."
On the contrary, Sreehari Nair of Rediff.com felt the film tried to cover too many issues and called it a "minor Anurag Kashyap film" that "aims low and hits." Shubhra Gupta of The Indian Express said that the "punches land in exactly the right place" when caste discrimination is addressed in the film. She also felt that the "film falters when it slips into melodrama." Tanul Thakur of The Wire wrote: "Mukkabaaz fails to go beyond the surface of caste realities".
Among the overseas reviewers, Deborah Young of The Hollywood Reporter, giving a positive response, wrote: "Energetic, cinematic, political and not just for sports fans." David D'Archy of Screen International mentioned in his review: "Kashyap manages to pack caste inequality, corruption and a triumph over disability into a romantic melodrama built around the boxing ring." Wendy Ide called the film an example of "gritty, grubby film-making" with "robustly filthy" dialogues, the violence "unflinching and the music loaded with innuendo". Mike McCahill of The Guardian called it "a heavy-hitting social critique disguised as a rock 'em-sock 'em sports movie."
Mukkabaaz earned ₹82 lakh (US$120,000) in its first day of release and ₹1.51 crore (US$220,000) on its second day. It collected a total of ₹4.04 crore (US$590,000) in its first weekend and ₹6.75 crore (US$980,000) in its first week. The film's opening was slow but the collections increased after positive word of mouth. Mukkabaaz earned a total of ₹10.51 crore (US$1.5 million) at the end of its theatrical run.