The thing about Kamal Haasan's movies is that they never take the audiences for granted. There is never an attempt at short-changing. The viewers get what they are promised. If it is masala film, it will be a wholesome one. If it is a serious one, it will be handled with sensitivity.
Before Mumbai Xpress we were all promised plenty of guffaws and hardy entertainment, and on that count Kamal does not disappoint. Mumbai Xpress is a roller coaster ride of mirth, fun and typically some Kamal kind of serious sentiments that are fed almost imperceptibly, laced with comedy.
Protagonist Avinash (Kamal Haasan) is a hard-of-hearing and slightly daft but sensitive soul who halfway through a kidnapping ploy, changes his mind, takes off with the kidnapped boy (Hardik) and gets into a dizzy comedy of errors.
The story is simple and straight: It is a comedy of errors. Avinash (Kamal), a bike stunt specialist in a circus, is incorporated into a gang (Vijay Raaz, Dinesh Lamba, Ramesh Aravind and Avinsah's sister Pratima Kazmi)that wants to kidnap a rich man's son.
But, as it happens, they end up kidnapping another boy who is an illegitimate son, born to an affair between ACP (Om Puri and an ex-bar girl Ahalya (Manisha Koirala).
The entry of this young boy (Hardhik) makes Avinash understand life and its people. Avinash, who is hard of hearing, had also been blind to reality. All is well that ends well. But after all the experience, Avinash emerges wiser.
There is little to complain on the acting front. Kamal is simply superb as only he can be. The nuances he comes up with just surprises you with every film. Ramesh Aravind, with a brilliant make up, is special. As a greedy insurance agent, he is believable and endearing. So are others. The young boy Hardhik is simply too good.
Om Puri is particularly effectual as the harassed father of a bride whose mistress (Manisha Koirala) suddenly demands his attentions when their illegitimate son is kidnapped.
A large part of the narrative is about the growing bonding between the hero Avinash and the boy whom he kidnaps.
The technical aspects in any Kamal film are first rate. It is here too. Ilayaraja's music, the jazz feel staying with you all through, is evocative and so are the sets and the camera work of Siddharth.
Singeertham Srinivasa Rao, the director, has marshaled his resources with aplomb and panache. Frankly, his bunch of talented artistes would not have given him any trouble.
Mumbai Xpress --- a fun train, all through.