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What can you say, when a movie hits all the right chords? Fabulous acting, nice compact script, very focussed direction. If I have to knit-pick I would say the things that didn't work were the aimless talk about Gandhiji's philosophy and the role of the American - only because his character's purpose was not explained properly - though I have my own ideas about the latter.
Have you ever left the cinema hall with the word “wow” written all over your face while your eyes are weeping your heart out? This is the kind of cinema that highlights the balance needed in making a movie out of a social issue. The balance needed between the thought provoking subject itself and the actual art of film-making. The acting, the characterizations, the relationships, the drama all have to contribute to the story, or else the audience’s attention is diverted from the topic at hand and the very purpose of making the movie is lost.
The movie is real but not boring. The fact that most acts of terrorism occur right in the middle of a normal day has been highlighted beautifully. The audience can feel the tension but not the characters who are going through their daily routine. However, this movie is not as much about the riots as it is about the aftermath. This reality has been brought about with a minimum amount of drama. A little cinematic liberty, which seems out of place, is taken towards the climax. But hey, you are watching a movie after all.
It manages to tell the story to that section of the audience which did not know about the degree of the violence, without grossing them out. And yet shocks even those who could visualize the atrocities from what they read and saw in the media (in 2002). The movie very obviously is from the Muslim point of view, but then again, they were the ones who were victimized the most.
The acting leaves you spell-bound. Sarika’s immense talent has been underrated all these years. Because of which it is very easy to take Naseeruddin Shah’s usual yet exceptional performance for granted. Corin Nemec puts up a good show too. However, what exact purpose his cynical character serves is unclear. It could have been to show the impact internal riots had on a neutral person. Or it could be to point out sarcastically how Indians are nice to people because they are ‘white’ but a few days later they are cutting throats of their own nationality. Or it could be a way to find distributors at least somewhere in the world. That could also be the reason behind keeping the base language English. The only other things that did not work were that it got a little preachy at one point and the hints to Gandhism were not fully fleshed out.
You should try and make a trip to the theaters for this one, because it is certainly not going to have the same impact on a small screen. While you see and hear of a village being transformed into a slaughterhouse, you will try to absorb the fact that this happened in reality. Also, you will realize that this is the story of just one family. How many more were affected by these riots? How many more are effected by all the terrorism around the world year after year?
- meetu, a part of the audience