Friday, August 12, 2005

Yahaan & Sehar 


Some movie buffs may have seen European films that look like Yahaan at film festivals, but this kind of visual quality is seldom seen in regular Hindi cinema. Not surprising then to discover that the DOP is a Swede (Jakob Ihre).

Shoojit Sircar’s debut film shows a great deal of merit. Though he is not a Kashmiri, the filmmaker has shown a realistic side of the beautiful but troubled state that is bleak, grey almost hellish! Mainstream Hindi filmmakers, even when they have made films about terrorism, can’t resist postcard visuals. Yahaan does not use any candy floss coating—it’s as if the desolate landscape devoid of colour is a metaphor for the piteous condition of the people.

Having said that, the plot (six writers have worked on the story- screenplay) moves on well trod ground—Kashmiri girl Adaa (Minissha) falls in love with armyman (Jimmy Shergill), tactfully named Aman, so the issue of religion doesn’t crop up. Neither Kashmiri militants, nor the army approves of such a romance, and when it turns out that Adaa is the sister of Shakeel, a terrorist leader (Yashpal Sharma), things get sticky for Aman.

When a spiteful senior (Mukesh Tiwari) accuses Aman of treason, Adaa (in Roja style) shakes up the system to rescue her beloved.

The first half the film, in which the romance and the tenuous relationship between the Kashmiri people and the army is established with a minimum of fuss, is simple and effective. The second half, when Adaa goes about fighting for Aman’s release, and the climax in a mosque is a bit too pat.

A little care could have been taken to make Adaa’s appearance authetic, keeping the milieu in mind. She is the only one who seems to walk around with head uncovered and hair flowing loose. She hints at rape of Kashmiri women by militants, but in her bearing, even when she is out on her own, there is no trace of fear or uncertainty.

And of course the cause of terrorism in Kashmir is reduced to simplistic levels— again the Roja-like conversation between Aman and Shakeel.

Jimmy Shergill’s performance is marvellously restrained, and Minissha makes a noteworthy debut in a role that is not overtly glamorous. But on the whole, the film is impressive, Sircar has made it in an uncompromising style without pandering to the box-office—commendable in a first film. It deserves a chance, those who see it, won’t regret it.


Kabeer Kaushik first feature Sehar is an earnest, well-researched film, but has a subject with which the audience is already fatigued.

Apparently based on a true life story, and set in Lucknow, Sehar is narrated by a telecommunications expert (Pankaj Kapur), who in the early days of cell phones, was recruited by the UP cops to nail a dreaded mafia don.

Ajay (Arshad Warsi), an honest cop in the Shool, Kagaar and Ab Tak Chhapan mould, is up against a corrupt system, run by Gajraj Singh (Sushant Singh) and is gang of brutal cohorts.

When their daylight murders and gang wars get out of hand, Ajay and his sympathetic boss (Rajendra Gupta) push for the formation of a Special Task Force, and eliminate the mafia by shooting at sight. But Gajraj is a wily opponent and the casualties on both sides are heavy.

The film, shot in stark documentary style, moves at a no-nonsense pace, and despite some needless diversions into a half-baked romance (Mahima Chaudhary) and a quick glimpse into Ajay’s past (his father committed suicide), concentrates on the cop-versus-mafia face offs. The problem being that we have seen it all before; also, and after reading about the law and order situation in UP, its tough to believe, that such an enterprise to eradicate organized crime was undertaken, the cops did not abuse their power, and that there was a chief minister honest enough to have supported it!

Sincere performances all round, and dialogues that are a delight for the Hindi-lover ...such chaste Hindi is seldom heard in films anymore.


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