Directed by: Chandraprakash Dwivedi
Starring: Sunny Deol, Ravi Kishan, Sakshi Tanwar, Saurabh Shukla, Mukesh Tiwari, Mithilesh Chaturvedi, Rajendra Gupta, Seema Azmi
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Release date: 16 November, 2018
Running Time: 120 Minutes
A Sanskrit priest decides to take matters in his hand when the locals of holy town Banaras stars to lure foreign tourists with fake spiritual gurus.
Mohalla Assi is an upcoming Indian Bollywood satirical comedy drama film starring Sunny Deol, and directed by Chandraprakash Dwivedi. After so much delay, the film is finally getting released on 16 November 2018.
The film is loosely based on Dr. Kashi Nath Singh’s popular Hindi novel Kashi Ka Assi, a satire on the commercialization of the pilgrimage city, and fake gurus who lure the foreign tourists. Assi Ghat is a ghat in Varanasi (Banaras) on the banks of Ganges River, and the film is based in a famous and historical ‘Mohalla’ (locality) by the ghat, on the southern end of Banaras. Also starring Ravi Kishen and Sakshi Tanwar, the film is set in the post-independence period.
Sunny Deol plays the lead role of Sanskrit teacher and an orthodox religious priest (Pundit) while Sakshi Tanwar plays his wife. The story of the film goes through the events in 1990 and 1989 including Ram Janmabhoomi movement and Mandal Commission implementation.
On 30 June 2015, the release of Mohalla Assi was stayed by a Delhi court for allegedly hurting religious sentiments. Prior to its release Mohalla Assi leaked online on 11 August 2015.
Mohalla Assi Release Issues:
Mohalla Assi was initially delayed for three years as the film director had stopped the work claiming that he had not been paid his dues. The release date of Mohalla Assi has been repeatedly pushed back and allegations of non-payment have continued to surface through 2012. However, the film is now ready for release in October–November 2015.
After extended delays, on 12 June 2015 film’s trailer was released, ahead on its late 2015 release. Shortly after, an FIR was filed in Varanasi against Deol and Dwivedi for the alleged use of abusive language in the film.
The film has been banned by the CBFC on 8 April 2016.
On December 11, 2017, Delhi High Court allowed the release of the film with one cut and adult certification, setting aside the order of CBFC. After so many delayed Sunny Deol announced the release date on 21 September 2018. It will be released on 16 November 2018.
Mohalla Assi Movie Trailer:
Trailer is not suitable for minors. To see movie trailer on YouTube – Click Here.
Mohalla Assi Movie Review:
This film’s lead, Pandeyji (Sunny Deol with hair slicked to the side) is sceptical of foreign tourists. The Varanasi priest and Sanskrit scholar wears his ghat on his sleeve and feels excessive tourism will reduce the spiritual site to a “picnic spot” and the holy river to a “swimming pool”. “Ganga humare liye river nahin, maiyya hain,” he says with unflinching fervor. And a large part of this film is actually about his struggle to accept that tourism is good, not just for the economy, but for the sustenance of locals.
The job of satires is to mock a pressing concern to such an extent that one is forced to consider it. But Mohalla Assi’s trivial issues and labored execution only manage to leave you feeling sedated and groggy — its 120-minute run time doesn’t even allow one to complete a single sleep cycle.
Based on Kashinath Singh’s Kashi ka Assii, this one takes us to the neighborhood abutting the sacred assi ghat where some pundits double up as fortune tellers while others struggle to stay relevant. It is where firangs flock to — seeking divine intervention, but struggle to find even a suitable accommodation. It is where a barber aspires to become a baba and for some reason, almost everyone swaps expletives without a care.
The film begins in the late ’80s, when India endured tremendous churn which consequently led to nationwide communal conflict. Charged by the political climate of the time and against his wife’s (Sakshi Tanwar) wishes, Pandeyji decides to set aside his mundane life and joins the mob headed to Ayodhya to construct a mandir. But his contribution to the cause is short-lived and he returns home after catching a bullet on his foot in the crossfire to contain the rabble. In the very next scene, he’s seen sharing a chuckle with a clutch of geriatrics who routinely collect at a local tea stall to exchange views on rashtriya swabhiman, desh ki aashtha and other pressing issues. It’s a like a jaded primetime news show that has been pulled off the air but the anchor hasn’t had enough.
The film’s dwindling focus remains whether or not foreign tourists should be encouraged to frequent places of worship as it threatens the risk of inevitable gentrification. But an alternate view is held by dodgy broker, Kanni (Ravi Kishan) who straddles various roles — tourist guide, estate agent and all-round guru in making a quick buck. Given their disparate views, it’s obvious Pandey and Kanni would cross swords at some point. But the course this film takes will also encourage the viewer to jab themselves.
Why Deol engaged with this project could be the Rs 1 crore question on that quiz show. At 62, the actor has little to prove and investing his skills in a film like this seems a wasted effort. Kishan is a fine casting choice for a motor-mouth tour guide with compromised morals and Tanwar manages her docile wife by mumbling verses from the Ramcharitmanas but does little to lift the dreary proceedings.
This one realises and elevates every stereotype one associates with foreigners — they bathe infrequently, seek constant sexual gratification and are willing to throw dollars to buy everything at sight. But like everything else in Mohalla Assi, these are only loosely held strong opinions.