The last time Rajat Kapoor directed a movie, he made a screwball comedy called Bheja Fry and hit an unforeseen jackpot. Vinay Pathak broke through the barrier of the unconventional hero in a commercial film (one that formerly Rajpal Yadav tried very unsuccessfully to break) and everyone rejoiced. Even the industry welcomed the low budget "sleeper hit". So when the promos for Mithya, very loudly proclaiming to be a product from the makers of Bheja Fry, hit screens, expectations naturally sky-rocketed.
Kudos to Rajat Kapoor for experimenting with a diametrically opposite formula this time around. Nothing in Mithya can remind you of Bheja Fry — not the genre, the treatment, nor, unfortunately, even the execution. Now Mithya isn't a bad film. On the surface, it's quite alright actually. It's bold and simple, a little dark, tragic too, and it has that very appealing kitsch-y feel to it. However, somewhere along the way, I suspect between scripting and filming, a little improvisation broke the film down.
The story is simple. Ranvir Shorey stars in two roles, one as a struggling theater actor (VK), overdosing on Hamlet, and another as a dreaded underworld gangster (Raje). A rival gangster notices the actor, kills the gangster, sneaks the actor in to pose as the gangster, and then... unfortunately, I'm not hiding the suspense here. Rajat Kapoor and Suarabh Shukla (co-writer of Satya) also apparently were left with an ellipsis around this point. So they fill it in with amnesia, emotion, double-crossing, very, very, very dark frames, and Neha Dhupia. None of these worked for me though.
Of the cast, Ranvir Shorey is once again well-intentioned, but somehow neither fills the mould of a gangster nor an actor, and seems most comfortable spouting Hindi Hamlet very passionately. Iravati Mahadev as Raje's wife Revati has an insignificant role that she's very good in. Harsh Chhaya does a convincing job of sounding and acting menacing as the brother, and Neha Dhupia is, well, not bad for a change. In fact, the first twenty to twenty-five minutes of the film are quite engaging. In parts, the camera work reminds one of the early days of the Coen brothers, circa Miller's Crossing, but the similarity with that gangster flick ends right there. In fact, even the camera work gets repetitive and dark to the point of a little difficulty in discerning different characters other than from voice. More importantly though, there is a clear lack of coherence in the screenwriter's mind, and this translates very easily from a potentially thrilling premise to an eventual emotional drama.