Sabbir Khan has a somewhat dated directorial style that takes you back to the nineties, but his strategy in casting and positioning films indicates a fair acumen about the working of popular culture. His leading man, Tiger Shroff, whom he has directed in two previous films – Heropanti and Baghi – has a taut figure that has been developed well. He is a convincing action hero and a reasonably good dancer. Unfortunately, he has an immobile face with a set expression that seems to be cast in stone.
Nawazuddin Siddique is the perfect antithesis to this wooden actor and the movie works towards a set of counterpoints that holds screen time. Siddique plays a Haryanvi Don from Delhi called Mahinder Fauji. This is a very different species from the kind that Munna Michael (Tiger Shroff) – an aspiring professional dancer and a Michael Jackson fanboy – encounters in Mumbai; the kind that speak in the Tapori idiom and have a fatal attraction to Bollywood actors. This Delhi man is not a philistine. He says that he was torn between art and murder, and only chose to be a Don after he went to college and killed his teacher.
Now he grabs land and develops high end properties in the capital city. Yet Mahinder yearns to practice his true vocation. He wants to be a good dancer; not just as an expression of his long suppressed artistic sensibility, but also to win brownie points with the woman he is in love with, a professional dancer called Dolly whom he has just hired at the fancy joint he owns, ‘Hotel Bluestar’. Dolly (Nidhhi Agerwal) is given a car and a 2BHK flat by the Don immediately after she accepts the position, but apparently she thinks these are perks, just to be ‘good friends’ with Mahinder. Well, Hello, Dolly!
The other comic counterbalance in the movie is when the Michael Jackson devotee in Mumbai turns up in Delhi to break into the dance scene in the city. The Don is enchanted by Munna’s moves and is determined to learn the art from him. When the artist demurs, a gun appears pointed at his head, and it is only when the hood confesses that it is all for love, that the sentimentalist in Munna Michael succumbs.
Without doubt, Nawazuddin Siddique on the dance floor is the high point of this movie. The ‘guru’ and ‘chela’ relationship is hilarious and though Nawaz looks like an electrocuted grasshopper when he starts, he gets some of the moves going pretty well by the time he finishes. The Jackson ‘Moonwalk’, of course, is out of the equation. But to watch a man dance, with little balance on his feet, but with great expressions on his face, is a special treat delivered when a fine actor is cast as a strategic move to offset the poor performance skills of the leading man.
Munna Michael is an average film, but it will have its niche audience.