Sarbjit - Review

wogma rating: The keen should rent; else TV (?)
quick review:

The despair, the hope, the frustration – you see it all, though you might not necessarily feel it.

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Probably the worst thing that one human can do to another is give them hope and then squash it. Even worse than the uncertainty of not knowing. Physical torture breaks the body, the resolve. Breaking hope breaks the spirit. Sarbjit for me was more about this will to keep the spirit alive versus the inhuman attempts at breaking it. Unfortunately though, Sarbjit had loftier aims of showing how all humans – Indian or Pakistani – are only human. This aim it fails to achieve because it really has nothing new to say.

Sarbjit's most glaring flaw would be its anecdotal nature. In its attempt at showing “this happened, then this happened, then this...but this was because that had happened a few years ago” Sarbjit completely misses out on connecting. And how is a story like Sarbjit to achieve whatever it has set out to do without that connection?

While you could blame a film's missing connection on dialogue and performances, here it slips at the first step itself – the narrative. It doesn't help then that the other aspects of the film are trying so hard that the effort is way too obvious. Be it the dialogue, the protagonist's performance, the photography or the background score.

The dialogue is rather film-y for a story based on true life. The use of browns and greys seem forced. Together with a background score (though beautiful at times) is screaming, “Look at us, we are so sad. Come on, you be sad too.”

As harsh as it sounds, the same is true for Aishwarya Rai's performance too. Yes, I don't feel so good saying that her performance wasn't impressive because you can tell she has given it her all. The problem is that it shows. You always find yourself thinking, “oh wow, Aishwarya Rai is drawing on all the energy she has by bulging her eyes and screaming her lungs out” and never “I can't bear to see Sarbjit's sister in such pain.”

Again we come back to not feeling the pain because there was no attempt as showing the times before the pain. The back and forth narrative is now a given for a grim, tragic story. You have to give the viewers a break, I guess. And the easiest way to give them a break is to flashback into happy times with a colorful song. But, the heroes (or victims) of these sad tales didn't get a break. I think this is the main reason we feel disconnected from the proceedings. We don't suffer for 10 continuous minutes what they suffered for over 2 decades.

Of course, actors rise beyond these script limitations if they are up to it. Like Richa Chadda does in the one scene that her otherwise mute character is given. Randeep Hooda does well too but as ironic as it sounds it is not really his character, Sarbjit's movie.

So, a movie about a wrongly imprisoned Indian in a Pakistani jail doesn't come off as a movie about other such cases. It is about, like a Pakistani character points out in the film, more about the ones suffering outside. It is about Sarbjit's sister's struggle. Interestingly, Sarbjit's wife and daughter correctly point out, after a while, it was the sister's struggle rather than anything else.

This very human aspect along with the inhumanity of crushing hope are what made Sarbjit a better film than it really is. Masochistic it is, but for this film to be any better it would have to be a lot, lot sadder.

- meeta, a part of the audience

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: A prisoner is tortured. Brutally.
  • Language: Clean
  • Nudity & Sexual content: None
  • Concept: That of an Indian trying to get her wrongly accused brother released from a Pakistani prison.
  • General Look and Feel: Extra effort made to look rustic and dry.

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

  • Direction: 3
  • Story: 3.5
  • Lead Actors: 3
  • Character Artists: 3
  • Dialogues: 2.5
  • Screenplay: 2
  • Music Director: 2.5
  • Lyrics: 2.5

Sarbjit - Trailer

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Comments (3)

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Suman Chakraborty:

Direction: 0.5
Story: 1.5
Lead Actors: 3
Character Artists: 1.1
Dialogues: 1
Screenplay: 0.5
Music Director: 1.5
Lyrics: 1

Shaivi Sharma:

Nice review. I found ur section on parental guidance very useful, as I don't find it on many blogs.

Atul:

The only good thing I felt about this movie is Randeep Hooda. After a long time, there's aishwarya rai but not so great performance from her. The movie is missing quite a few things like you say. Music for sarbjit was ok.

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