Mulk (transl. Country; Hindi pronunciation: [mʊlq]) is a 2018 Indian Hindi-language drama film directed by Anubhav Sinha. Shot in Benaras and Lucknow, the film relates the story of a Muslim family trying to reclaim its lost honor after a family member gets involved in terrorism.
The film stars Taapsee Pannu, Rishi Kapoor, and Rajat Kapoor in lead roles, with Neena Gupta and Manoj Pahwa featuring in supporting roles, and was initially scheduled for release on 13 July 2018, but was pushed and theatrically released worldwide on 3 August 2018, because of avoiding clash with Soorma, another film starring Pannu along with Diljit Dosanjh. Upon release, the film received positive reviews from critics, who praised the direction of Sinha, and the performances of the three lead actors and Pahwa. With earnings of over ₹420 million (US$5.9 million), the film proved to be a moderate commercial success, and at the 64th Filmfare Awards, was nominated for six awards, including Best Actress – Critics (Pannu) and Best Supporting Actor (Pahwa), winning Best Story (Sinha).
Based on a real-life story, Mulk revolves around the struggles of a Muslim joint family from a town in India, who fight to reclaim their honor after a member of their family takes to terrorism.
Murad Ali Mohammed (Rishi Kapoor), a lawyer by profession lives amiably with his family in a densely-populated diverse locality of Varanasi. His daily routine includes Namaz at a nearby mosque followed by some chit-chat over a cup of tea from a tea stall managed and owned by one of his close Hindu neighbors. His close-knit family consists of his wife Tabassum (Neena Gupta), brother Bilaal (Manoj Pahwa) who owns a mobile phone shop, brother’s wife Chhoti-Tabassum (Prachee Shah Pandya), nephew Shahid (Prateik Babbar) and niece Aayat (Vartika Singh). Murad’s son Aftab (Indraneil Sengupta) stays abroad with his wife Aarti (Taapsee Pannu), who’s a lawyer and is a little estranged from the family.
The story begins on the day of Murad’s 65th birthday, when Aarti comes to visit them. The family enjoys a lovely night with the neighbors and friends. Another story is shown in parallel, where it is revealed that Shahid has joined hands with a terrorist organization headed by the wanted Mehfooz Alam (Sumit Kaul) who assigns Shahid with the task of a bomb blast. After the night of the anniversary celebrations, Shahid leaves early morning for Allahabad and executes the attack as planned with two other acquaintances. A lot of innocent people get killed and SSP Danish Javed (Rajat Kapoor) is assigned with the task to investigate the crime. He tracks down everyone involved with the attack, corners Shahid and finally shoots him dead as he tries to escape instead of surrendering.
Soon, police arrives at Murad’s house and starts interrogating the family members. They turn the place upside down to gather evidence. As the news spreads across, people starts to flock outside Murad’s house. Police takes Bilaal into custody for further interrogation. Aarti steps up as the defense lawyer for Bilaal and escorts him to police station. Danish tortures and interrogates Bilaal overnight but couldn’t extract any information out of him.
Within a matter of hours, the situation around Murad’s neighborhood changes drastically. Everyone whom Murad had known for decades starts looking at him as a terrorist. His life’s reputation and goodwill gets shattered in a day. Bilaal is taken to court for hearing and the judge Harish Madhok (Kumud Mishra) denies his bail and grants police custody of him for 7 days for further interrogation. After postmortem, police brings Shahid’s body to hand it over to Murad, but he refuses to accept. Despite him strongly condemning Shahid’s act, situation worsens around Murad’s neighborhood where the Hindus tag his entire family as terrorists trying to shame them in every possible way. Stones get pelted inside the house and “Go back to Pakistan” gets written on their boundary wall. On the other hand, some of the Muslims with extremist mindset approach Murad and try to convince him that Shahid has sacrificed his life in the name of Jihad. He is a true martyr and all the Muslims should appreciate his act and rise up against Hindu dominant society which Murad strongly opposes. Despite everything, the family maintains their compose and relies on legal procedures to get their names cleared.
As the legal proceedings begin after 7 days, public prosecutor Santosh Anand (Ashutosh Rana) tries to convince the court that this act of Shahid is not a standalone incident but an eye opener about how Muslims are breeders of terrorists. He argues that every single member of Murad’s family was aware and supportive of Shahid’s action and his home was the den of terrorist operations. As evidence, he presents Shahid’s laptop which has detail procedure of how to make bombs, a transmitter which was installed at Murad’s home to communicate with the terrorists via private frequencies, CCTV footage of Bilaal giving lift to Mefooz Alam and him selling SIM cards to terrorists without asking for any valid documents. Based on all these facts, he requests the judge to consider Murad also as a person of interest in this case and remove him as Bilaal’s defense lawyer. The court agrees, Murad has to step down and Aarti takes his place as the main lawyer for this case.
With things turning against him at court, Bilaal, who is already tired, ashamed, confused, saddened, tortured and humiliated, suffers a massive heart attack and passes away on his way to the hospital. Murad’s family again suffers another setback and now everything comes down to Aarti to get her father-in-law and his family acquitted of all the charges that were laid upon them on the basis of mere prejudice.
Aarti tries to justify in court that there is no evidence against any of the family members except Shahid that they were involved with terrorism. Shahid was the only person who knew how to operate a laptop and the transmitter was installed by him under the excuse to boost cable TV signal. Since he had access to Bilaal’s mobile shop he only took those SIM cards without any document and used those to communicate with the terrorists. Bilaal had no idea who Mehfooz Alam was and so when he came to meet Shahid, he assumed him to be his friend and offered him a drop at the railway station since he was also heading in the same direction. Aarti also argues that it has become a mindset of people to consider all Muslims as terrorists and someone just by growing a beard or practicing Islam becomes a terrorist in public eye. Just because of this established taboo about Muslims, Murad and his family is going through this horrible trauma and humiliation which even claimed Bilaal’s life.
Public prosecutor Santosh Anand fails to produce any further evidence and the court concludes that all evidences against Murad and his family are circumstantial thereby dropping all charges against them. Judge Harish Madhok dismisses the case stating that the main problem is with people’s mentality and everyone irrespective of their religion should fight against it to bring a change.
The movie ends with giving it’s viewers the moral that we should change our way of thinking from “We and Them” to “We”.
Rishi Kapoor as Advocate Murad Ali Mohammed
Taapsee Pannu as Advocate Aarti Mohammed (née Malhotra), Murad’s daughter-in-law and Aftab’s wife
Rajat Kapoor as SSP Danish Javed
Ashutosh Rana as Public Prosecutor Santosh Anand
Manoj Pahwa as Bilaal Ali Mohammed, Murad’s brother
Prateik Babbar as Shahid Mohammed, Murad’s nephew and Bilaal’s son
Neena Gupta as Tabassum Mohammed, Murad’s wife and Aftab’s mother
Kumud Mishra as Judge Harish Madhok
Prachee Shah Pandya as Choti Tabassum, Bilaal’s wife and Shahid’s mother
Vartika Singh as Aayat Mohammed, Murad’s niece and Bilaal’s daughter
Ashrut Jain as Rashid
Indraneil Sengupta as Aftab Mohammed, Murad and Tabassum’s son and Aarti’s husband
Sumit Kaul as Mehfooz Alam
Abdul Quadir Amin as Riyaz
Mahesh Chandra Deva as ats officer Bhadhohi
Varun Tamta as Superintendent of Police Mishra