Saturday, August 22, 2009

S & S 


It’s not to compare, but you can’t help note that films about children growing up in disturbed (by war or terrorism) zones, from countries like Iran and Afghanistan, really have the power to shake up the viewer. Recent example of films released in India—Baran and Turtles Can Fly.

Piyush Jha’s film Sikandar is politically naïve as well as short on logic and emotions. Santosh Sivan’s Tahaan tread more or less the same ground, with far more depth and assurance. The 14-year-old Sikandar (Parzan Dastur), whose parents were killed by terrorists, lives with his aunt and uncle, and dreams of being a football player. For a kid brought up in the shadow of violence, it seems odd that when he finds a pistol lying in the street, he should pick it up and swagger around with it, threatening school bullies and a shopkeeper. Sikandar’s only friend, confident and helper is Nasreen (Ayesha Kapoor), and not an eyebrow raised when the two spend all their time together.

The army led by Major Rao (R Madhavan) are on the lookout for a militant Zahgir (Arunoday Singh), but the man not just walks around freely, he also trains Sikandar in shooting, and gives him task of shooting a political leader Mukhtar (Sanjay Suri) in return for a washing machine for his aunt. In Tahaan, the child similarly used, was too small to know any better, but Sikandar is old enough to understand the consequences of a political assassination. The role of the army, the motivations of the two separatist factions, the stand of the politician and the position of the local religious leaders are not properly explored, leaving too many questions unanswered; and at the same time over-simplifying a very complex and ever-changing scenario in the troubled state.

Jha has got the two young actors to perform adequately, the locations are pristine and pretty. But what could have been a tragedy or at least a cautionary tale about the perils of corrupting young minds, just ends up as a convoluted and ultimately meaningless exercise, which just draws the hardly novel conclusion that politicians are the root of all evil.


A lot of very undeserving industry brats have films produced for them by doting daddies. When Nasser Khan wanted to be a star, he put in his own money and made a film—all the more admirable since he is visually challenged. But since he was spending a biggish sum on producing this vanity vehicle, the least he could have done was taken some acting and voice lessons and, yes, ensured a half way decent script.

All that director Rohit Nayyar has ensured is several lavish song-n-dance sequences with skimpily-dressed foreign extras and one item number each for the two leading ladies, dotting the largely incoherent and totally laughable script. For reasons too corny to go into, a mysterious man called Arjun Sherawat (Nasser Khan) carries out a series of audacious ‘supari’ killings, ordered by the state’s home minister (Sachin Khedekar) right under the noses of the cops.
Inspector Sanjana (Sonali Kulkarni) is under fire from her boss (and father), as well as reporters Rahul (Milind Soman) and Sheetal (Hrishita Bhatt) for failing to nab the killer.

For a front, Arjun has a garage and is known as Raju mechanic to the cops. Everyone seems to know the real identity of Arjun, and at some point even Sanjana does, but for some reason, they keep looking for ‘saboot’ before arresting him. The tough cop also falls in love with him—for no reason but that it is Nasser Khan’s film and he can make it go any which way he pleases. Arjun gets to perform a lot of stunts, and even if some of them were done by a double, it is still an achievement for the blind producer-actor. Still, the film’s curiosity value is not enough for audiences to spend money to see it.

If Nasser Khan (modeling an array of eye wear and speaking in a monotonous drone) wanted to be an actor, maybe he should have put some more thought into a producing a film that would suit his personality and skills better. You can only feel sorry for the other actors who are just pawns in this self-promotion exercise.


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