The Legend of Michael Mishra review: a big joke

There’s Arshad Warsi looking totally disinterested as Michael, sleep walking through the film. Then there is the ladylove Aditi Rao Hydari smiling dizzily and dancing weirdly to a song which is about the spelling of cow. C.O.W.
Director: Manish Jha

Starring: Arshad Warsi, Aditi Rao Hydari, Boman Irani, Kayoze Irani

A scene from the movie.

For some strange reason, all through The Legend of Michael Mishra, I was closely following the antics of the extras-in the crowd scenes; in the song and dance routines and as listeners in the central narrative tool, of Boman Irani telling us the rather protracted backstory of Michael Mishra. The over enthusiastic, unintentionally funny acts in the sideshow betray a total lack of control of the director on what he had in hand. Forget the actors on the margins; he doesn’t even seem to have supervised the core of the film: its script.

Clearly there’s a lot that slips between the ambition and intent and the absolutely amateurish execution of it on screen. The director would have had lofty dreams, of spinning a quirky and whimsical film, where the simpleton tailor hero accidentally kills a don and becomes a kidnapper. He falls in love with a girl, especially the way she says hello, goes to the gallows to reform himself and becomes a tailor back again. It’s a different matter that he gets back to the sewing machine only to stitch some ghastly babasuit-like uniforms for himself and the other prison inmates. I am sure that they’d have preferred death sentence to being stuck in those clothes the rest of their lives. Things steadily go from the dull and unfunny to downright idiotic and ridiculous wherein the hero eats some 200 green chillies in a competition with his eyes turning red and blood oozing out of his nose. All to prove his love for the heroine.

Despite the heavy duty title the film plays out so flat and lifeless that the viewer couldn’t care less. What you get in the name of whimsy is sheer inanity, boredom and irritation. Some Groucho Marx masks may have been worn by the characters in a couple of the scenes in the film but that doesn’t lend the film any of Marx’s crackling humour.

Bihar is a tacky backdrop where people spew lines like “kutwa pipewa mein phans gawa hai (the dog is stuck in the pipe)”. No, don’t ask me to elaborate on the context please. There’s Arshad Warsi looking totally disinterested as Michael, sleep walking through the film. Then there is the ladylove Aditi Rao Hydari smiling dizzily and dancing weirdly to a song which is about the spelling of cow. C.O.W. No, I am not joking. It’s the film that is a big joke.