Indian comedy from 2003.
Starring: Sunil Dutt, Sanjay Dutt, Arshad Warsi
Director: Rajkumar Hirani
Writers: Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Rajkumar Hirani, Lajan Joseph, Abbas Tyrewala
Bechdel test: Fail
Murli Prasad “Munna Bhai” Sharma is an Indian mafia leader, but has told his parents that he is a doctor. When they suddenly decide to visit from their village Murli and his crew must make their regular headquarters look like a clinic for the needy. The parents are fooled until they set up a meeting with a prospective bride for Murli, and she turns out to be an actual doctor. From there hilarity ensues.
First of all, I liked the movie, there were however some culture clashes for a regular westerner viewer. For instance the parents of Murli setting him up on a date, and with a prospective bride to boot, was completely alien. The mother’s overly dramatic plea to see grandchildren before she died, seemed quite familiar though.
I have not seen this or any other Bollywood movie before, and this was a nice intro to the genre. I don’t really know how representative it is, but it is the highest rated Indian movie on IMDb so I assume it is regarded quite favorably by the target audience.
A little bit into the movie I realized that the title was a joke, so I will try to explain the concept to any other foreign viewers. “Munna” is translated to English as “Brother”, and is a moniker that only members of the mafia calls one another. And M.B.B.S. is a medical degree, so “Munna Bhai M.B.B.S.” means “Doctor mafia brother Bhai”.
This movie did not have the Bechdel-test performed on it on the Bechdel test site already, but there were no scenes with two named women without one of the male characters having center stage. I will say that the movie does not pass the Bechdel test.
The story is typical for a light hearted romantic comedy; far fetched and entertaining. They do try to get a message across, that doctors should see patients as individuals and not become bureaucrats.
All the actors were just fine in their roles and they also had to be able to sing and dance, which they did well. That is what makes this movie fun; the colorful musical numbers. It is everything that I would expect from a musical; people suddenly bursting into song and folks in the streets joining in complex dance choreography. Brilliant.
The remainder of the music, the regular film music, was reminiscent of the 80’s though. It didn’t fit with the movie and was quite a bit to dominating on several occasions.
The main character, played by Sanjay Dutt, has a more ordinary look than the polished Hollywood actors which makes the character relatable. This might not be the case for Indian viewers though, as they might have a different ideal for male beauty.
The musical numbers were fun and catchy and the choreography was visually inventive and fun. (At least to someone not used to Bollywood.)
I would definitely watch this movie again. There were many weird things, maybe especially regarding gender roles, but it was fun and entertaining. In fact I was so entertained by the movie that I will try to find the time to watch the sequel where Murli goes on another adventure. This time he is helped by Mahatma Gandhi who only he can see. The concept of that plot is just crazy enough so that I have to see it.
I would recommend this movie to others, pretty much regardless of who they are. I think everyone knows what to expect from a Bollywood movie, even if they haven’t seen one before, so there should be no need to explain much beforehand either.
Over to you
If you’ve recently seen “Munna Bahi M.B.B.S” or you’re watching along with my year of movies, please leave a comment below with your thoughts on the movie or note down your opinion somewhere else.
14 movies down. 351 to go.
If you want to get “Munna Bahi M.B.B.S” from Amazon, here is a link for that. They probably have the movie many other places too. Maybe it’s already on your shelf?
Tomorrow’s movie is “The Elephant man“. Get some more information about this movie and the other movies on my watch list this week on the upcoming movies page. If you’re new to this site and are wondering why I’m watching a movie every day for a year, read more about my experiment.
Until next time; live long and prosper.