‘Murder Mubarak’ Review: Homi Adajania’s Netflix Film Boringly Eats The Rich


Movies about classism and “eating the rich” have existed ever since the concept of the wealth gap became a reality. But it’s possible that there has been an increase in stories that deal with such themes because more and more people are feeling the heat of capitalism. Rian Johnson’s Knives Out, as well as Glass Onion, became breakout hits for highlighting the undercurrent of crassness amongst the affluent. Jordan Peele’s Us, despite its supernatural twist, showed how easily the poor can be brushed under the rug after being used as an experiment. The Menu took a culinary approach to tackle this topic. Parasite swept every awards show for the portrayal of the oppression of the middle class by the rich and the oppression of the lower class by the middle class. And although Bollywood is catching up to this trend with films like Murder Mubarak, it just doesn’t have the same bite. 

Homi Adajania’s Murder Mubarak, which has been written by Gazal Dhaliwal and Suprotim Sengupta and adapted from Anuja Chauhan’s Club You To Death, starts with a fake murder in order to introduce all the main characters of the film whose lives revolve around the Royal Delhi Club. Guppie Ram is one of the employees of the club who suffers from dementia. Leo Matthews is the most popular gym trainer, because he is more attractive than Theju and Thinsuk. Minu Dimri is Theju’s girlfriend, and she is having an affair with Leo. Devendra Bhatti is the manager of the club. Rannvijay Singh is the royal president of the club. Shehnaz Noorani is an actress, and she is fighting for the position of the president of the club. Yash Batra is a druggie, and his mother is Roshni Batra, who is best buddies with Bambi Todi and Cookie Katoch. Bambi is a widow (she used to be married to Anshul), and she is in love with Kaashi Dogra (who apparently has a Bengali girlfriend that his mother hates). In addition to that, there’s Ganga, who works at the salon. Now, when Leo is found dead under mysterious circumstances, ACP Bhavani Singh and PK-SI Padam Kumar are brought in to investigate the matter.

Like every other anti-capitalism movie, Murder Mubarak says that the rich are evil; they can’t hide their rotten insides with their money, and if the poor try to exploit them, there’s a good chance that they’ll end up dying. That’s fine, I guess, because what else can you say about a movie that demonizes the affluent? My issue is that Dhaliwal and Sengupta take an ungodly amount of time to make the audience sympathize with them and think, “Oh, they are just like us.” Somebody is a kleptomaniac; someone doesn’t tip according to their social status; they have crushes and affairs; they use expletives like punctuation marks; and they gossip. On top of that, there’s the central romance between Kaashi and Bambi, which takes up so much space that the role of the detective, Bhavani, feels like an afterthought. By the end, it does make some sense why they have more scenes that the audience surrogate himself. However, a subplot being backed by logic doesn’t automatically make it interesting, especially if the underlying emotions are so hollow. And to make matters worse, the film seems to be a hate letter to not just the rich but the working class as well.

Look, I’m well aware of the fact that a large section of the audience has been programmed by the barrage of cop-driven movies that Bollywood produces to accept a cop as the protagonist. I read too much news to do the same. Hence, after a point, Bhavani’s righteousness and simplicity feel hollow. But what about the rest? The gym trainer, the guy in charge of an orphanage, the gardener, the maid, the cosmetologist—all of them end up being as despicable as the people they are “serving.” Words like “Robin Hood” and “equality” are thrown around here and there. The hypocrisy of the generosity that’s shown by the affluent is called out. However, the lack of focus on the working class’s opportunistic behavior, which is a result of capitalism and classism, leaves a very bitter taste in the mouth. It’s like following the trajectory of Marta in Knives Out and then finding out that even she is morally corrupt. You can say it’s realistic and a reflection of the fact that capitalism is the real enemy, but at the end of the day, it’s a movie (not a documentary) being made by people from the upper echelons of society. So, if the filmmakers pretend to start their narrative with the intention to eat the rich and then say, “Well, everyone’s a little evil,” I don’t think their heart is in the right place, and it reeks of hypocrisy and classism.

While the story and messaging of Murder Mubarak are up for debate, I am not listening to any “actually, it’s not that bad” statements regarding its overall presentation. The whole film is devoid of any texture or flair. The look and feel of the film feel like a hybrid of a Crime Patrol episode and those advertisements that urge viewers to take home loans to make their dream house. Every frame conveys the information that needs to be conveyed, and that’s it. Usually, an ensemble cast like this allows the director and his crew to experiment with blocking and staging. None of that is happening in this film because they are okay with a bunch of shots and reverse shots. The background score is annoying as hell! There’s one Punjabi music cue and another one that’s sort of Rajasthani. Everything in between sounds like it has been ripped out of a cartoon show made for toddlers. And all of this is used in such a repetitive fashion that I almost went for the mute button; I would’ve preferred reading the subtitles over listening to the music and the yapping of the actors. Brijendra Kala, Aashim Gulati, Suhail Nayyar, Sanjay Kapoor, Vijay Varma, Tisca Chopra, Dimple Kapadia, and Pankaj Tripathi are good actors. But I’ve seen these performances before, and these actors have nothing new to offer here. Sara Ali Khan has a shouting scene at the end of the film that can be labeled as a “career ending move.” That said, it’s very refreshing to see Karisma Kapoor. She essays Shehnaz’s charismatic, dramatic, and manipulative nature to perfection, and I hope she starts showing up in films and shows in starring roles regularly again.

To be very clear, I didn’t like Murder Mubarak at all. I don’t think it has any redeeming qualities. Is it predictable, and did I see the final twist coming? No, I didn’t. Does that make the film interesting? No, not at all. I mean, the purpose of a murder mystery is to obfuscate plot points, leave crumbs for the audience to follow, and then pull the curtain. I don’t think there’s any enjoyment to be derived from a story that doesn’t take the audience on a journey, delays the reveal until the very end, and then pretends that it has done something revolutionary by catching them by surprise. It also doesn’t help the film’s case when the final reveal doesn’t have anything to say that’ll stay with the audience. I won’t spoil it for you, but the film’s final note is so weak that the realization that it took 142 minutes to say this feels infuriating. Anyway, if you do want to watch an Agatha Christie-esque, Knives Out-esque, Bollywood murder mystery, I recommend giving Anu Menon’s Neeyat a try. It’s far better than this chore of a film.

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Pramit Chatterjee
Pramit Chatterjee
Pramit loves to write about movies, television shows, short films, and basically anything that emerges from the world of entertainment. He occasionally talks to people, and judges them on the basis of their love for Edgar Wright, Ryan Gosling, Keanu Reeves, and the best television series ever made, Dark.

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