BIFF 2013 - Mumbai's King - Cinema Review

'There's no real need or reason for Rahul and Abraaz to find themselves in an lustrous emerald pool, high above the city, but it matters not; the new experience and change of palette is a welcome one.'

The bizarrely likeable Mumbai's King proves to be a film less concerned with narrative and much more concerned with conveying atmosphere and depicting small slices of life in the titular Indian city. Those things taken as a given, Manjeet Singh's film is a refreshing success of form and beauty, a dip and dive into the slums of Mumbai, hot on the heels of tear-away Rahul (Rahul Bairagi) and partner-in-crime, Arbaaz (Arbaaz Khan).

The two leads prove to be one of Singh's greatest assets. Cheeky smiles and a wittily delivered joke keep the thin narrative - Rahul is running away from his abusive father - in the background and the locations and vistas very much in the fore. Still, ignore the story too much - and Mumbai's King threatens to - and you leave the audience with an empty art installation, with nothing present to invest in. Rahul and Arbaaz ensure this never happens and the latter in particular, seen constantly trailing a colourful standard of balloons, is a disarming and innocent presence.

Singh then, for the most part, turns his attention to the colours and sounds of the city. Through his lens, Mumbai becomes a vibrant party of splashed pigments and detours to new thematic tincture installations. There's no real need or reason for Rahul and Abraaz to find themselves in an lustrous emerald pool, high above the city, but it matters not; the new experience and change of palette is a welcome one.

Whilst this happens, Mumbai's King is kept moving by a riveting soundtrack. Eventually it becomes overused - particularly the main theme - but for the most part, every moment it shows up is an aural joy and the mix of the music and the natural clamour of the street scenes does a good job in building Mumbai as a sun-stained character.

For a film with this much rough charm, it's perhaps little surprise to find that the current subtitles feel little need to be, well, accurate. A text-message smiley face shows up at one point, whilst, early on we are helpfully told that there is a '[random song]' playing in the background. It speaks to a little of Mumbai's King's roguishness, through which it finds a beauty that can occasionally catch in your throat.




Mumbai's King screens again on Friday 19th April.

The 19th Bradford International Film Festival runs from 11th to 21st April 2013 at the National Media Museum and other venues near to the city.

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