Saturday, October 22, 2016

31st October 

Nightmare Revisited

The Sikh genocide is among the most horrifying episodes in recent Indian history, but very few films have been made on the subject. Writer Harry Sachdeva has been inspired by true events to recreate those gruesome days, and also underline the point that the real perpetrators were never punished.  However, the film directed by Shivaji Lotan Patil, is not able to do complete justice to the subject. 

The film is from the point of view of an ordinary Sikh family in Delhi-- Davinder Singh (Vir Das), follows his daily routine, with no inking of the horros to follow. He takes his two sons to school, prays at the gurudwara and goes to work at the Delhi Electricity office. His wife Tejinder Kaur (Soha Ali Khan) is a homemaker, who cares for her little daughter.

It’s a day like any other, a few hours later, comes the tumult. The Prime Minister (Indira Gandhi) is gunned down by one of her Sikh security guards, and that unleashes an orgy of revenge violence against innocent people of the same faith. Men, reportedly goaded by politicians, go about hacking looting and targeting Sikh homes and businesses, while cops look the other way.

The film checks all the boxes in trying to portray what happened, the plotting of the pogrom, the nasty cop Inspector Dahiya (Nagesh Bhonsle), the Hindu friends to the rescue, the family coping with the terror and trying to escape the marauding mobs.

The film has a few truly moving moments, and it is always shocking that such a huge tragedy could take place in full media glare.  Everything was well recorded and dispassionately reported.  A film needs to go beyond the predictable--perhaps it is the inadequacy of the lead actors, or the inability of the well-intentioned script to rise about the hackneyed that prevents the film from leaving any kind of lasting impact. Still, it serves as a much needed reminder that it does not take much to reduce normal people savagery;  and also that it takes a crisis to create unlikely heroes.


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