Sunday, July 03, 2016


What a Racket

In these times, fraught with communal tension, only new or non-established filmmakers would attempt a political drama. The film by P. Singh & Jitendra Tiwari went through its share of censor troubles—and got little or no support from the industry—but Shorgul remains at the level of a bullet that missed its mark.

In Hindi films, politicians have been caricatured and demonized over and over again—which, considering the kind of leaders we have, it not difficult to do. But repetition has turned the crooked politician into a stereotype, who is expected to dress, speak and behave in a particular manner.

Shorgul starts out as an expose of the Muzzafarnagar riots of 2013—a generic communal clash forgotten as one amongst many—and falls into the familiar pits of simplistic rhetoric.

The town is renamed Malihabad, and is a typical lawless Uttar Pradesh killing field, also overused in films by now. Ranjit Om (Jimmy Shergill) is a dapper politician of a right-wing party (no prizes for guessing who he is based on, and which real party it resembles), as hypocritical as they come, his personal life being quite different from the traditional avatar he projects There has to be rabble-rousing Muslim to represent the other side, and there’s Alam Khan (Narendra Jha). 

Ranjit wants to somehow discredit Chaudhary (Ashutosh Rana), a respected Gandhian leader in the town, and the opportunity presents itself when his son Raghu (Aniruddh Dave) falls in love with Muslim neighbour Zainab (Suha Gezen).  She is engaged to Salim (Hiten Tejwani), a liberal Muslim, and trouble is bound to follow.

While it is true that it takes very little to instigate communal riots and Hindu-Muslim romances have been the cause of quite a few skirmishes, Shorgul does not even try to go into the bigger issue of religious fundamentalism of all hues.

It is critical of the politics of hate, but diminishes its own stand by portraying the chief minister of UP as a clean cut Mithilesh Singh Yadav (Sanjay Suri), which would invite chuckles of disbelief from anyone in the audience that knows even a little about the workings of the UP government. If maintaining law and order was such a priority, the state would not have been in such chaos.

Maybe unvarnished truth and nuance is too much to expect from a film, and, indeed, why would a filmmaker even stick his neck out?  So, all that it delivers is earnest performances from Ashutosh Rana and Jimmy Shergill and not much else.


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