Movies

Sarbjit…Insufferable

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Wanting an easy way out, the run for biopics continues. The fact that biopics rarely work in India; an odd one which works to an extent, needs to be fictionalized in parts or more. If such films on Gandhi (which had just scrapped through in English original version but failed in its Hindi version) as well as films on Bose, Patel, Nehru, Savarkar, Ambedkar have all passed unnoticed, to think that Sarbjit was the least of a real life story to be adapted for a film! 

Sarbjit Singh, played by Randeep Hooda, is a farm hand in the village of Bhikhi wind in Punjab near the India Pakistan border. His upbringing has mostly been under the aegis of his older sister, Dalbir Kaur, played by Aishwarya Rai. As he comes of age, he falls for the village belle, Richa Chaddha, and soon becomes the father of two daughters. 

Fond of wrestling, Hooda is engrossed in the sport one day when Rai watches him from a passing street bus. For whatever reason, she is angry with him. The film or the script does not bother to tell you why for, in a small village, youth do indulge in such harmless sport for pastime. However, Rai decides to punish Hooda, married and father of two, for his indulgence as if he was a school kid. He is banished from house even as he keeps bantering from outside the main door. The scene has been prolonged unnecessarily and makes little sense.

This is when a friend of Hooda enters the scene and flashes a quarter of alcohol (180ml) at Hooda and both vanish in to nearby fields to share the drinks. And, in no time, both are beyond themselves totally inebriated. Imagine, 90 ml of alcohol each doing that to two Punjabis! Leaving his two-wheeler for his friend to tend to, Hooda decides to amble home. Instead, he ambles into Pakistani territory where the rangers are ready to pounce on him and consign him to a jail. He is branded as an Indian terrorist, Ranjeet Singh, who bombed various locations in Pakistan killing many.

The treatment meted out to Hooda in a Pakistani jail is inhuman to say the least. On the Indian side, Rai is desperately looking for her brother to no avail. She soon learns that he has landed in a Pakistani jail. There on starts her ordeal and, that of the viewer of this film, as she bangs on every possible door to come to help her get her brother released. She sits on fasts, leads numerous candle light marches (which have become popular in our films more than they happen in life) and these things get repetitive all through the film.

Rai yells at people all around, may it be in Indian officialdom or in Pakistan jails as if her brother was the only Indian languishing in Pakistani jail and, as if, India did not have any Pakistanis in its prisons. Her approach as shown in the film, lacks logic or normalcy. 

The film is titled after the so called victim, Sarbjit, but it is all about Rai. She is in each frame as a crusader on a mission to get her brother freed. Neither does she convince the authorities nor the audience with her tirades nor her overacting. 

To think in its perspective, Sarbjit was not a subject to turn into a film; it is a local story with no identification with all India audiences. It is an inconclusive story where nothing positive comes out in the end. The other mistake was to cast the glamorous Ms Rai as the protagonist who neither looks nor convinces as Sarbjit’s sister, Dalbir Kaur would expected to be. She also lacks the native Punjabi twang as most of the time she mouths Hindi. In fact, Rai, expected to be the star and draw for this film, is its major drawback.

In this film about Sarbjit, Hooda playing Sarbjit is sidelined as isRicha Chadha, playing his wife. The script is wonky and, at 131 minutes, intolerable. Direction is below par. Editing is poor. Cinematography is fair. Music had no place in this film except for one song in the beginning when Hooda and Chadha romance; the rest of the numbers are forced in. The film’s dialogue lacks spark. Richa, despite a much curtailed secondary role, stands her ground. Hoodagives into poor substance.

Sarbjit is insufferable. Tax Free tag in a couple of states notwithstanding. 

Producer: Vshu Bhagnani, Jackey Bhagnanai, Sandeep Singh, Deepshikha Deshmukh, Omung Kumar, KrIshan Kumar, Bhushan Kumar. 

Director: Omung Kumar.

Cast: Randeep Hooda, Richa Chadha, Darshan Chadha, Ankita Shrivastav, Shiwani  Saini. 

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