Review - Sikandar: fights shoddy details with good concept

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

Just like ever-so-beautiful Kashmir gets grimmer as you look deeper into the situation there, the magnificent bird's eye view of the film is marred by the unpolished details. The glowing loopholes distract from the range of interesting, socio-political underlying themes.

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Paradise on earth or battlefield? Religion or Politics? Military or militants? Individualism or greater cause? Both, both, both and both. And yes Sikandar deals with all of them. Or at least tries to. Only very deft hands can do justice to the complexities these issues involve without oversimplifying it. And oversimplify this film does. That too with a lot of loopholes. Despite all of this though the film is a decent overall look at what's happening up there because, like it's said, it has its heart in the right place.

Kashmir is in turmoil. We all know that. How many times do we think of the people who live there? People like you and me. What happens to the kids growing up there when they are orphaned - by our soldiers or the jehadis - collateral damage of their cause? What about the collateral damage caused to the psyche of the people living - for whom this is a way of life? How altruistic are the harbingers of peace or the messengers of God?

Piyush Jha, the writer, started with a very nice and acceptable connect-the-dot game. In the overall picture, the dots, all the characters are in place - the common man, the opportunist jehadi, the calculating military, the "impartial" religious leaders, the crookedly ambitious politician and back to the common man. We know the dilemma or the singular aim faced by each one given his/her situation. And you are sensitized or not to their situation. But unfortunately, the links connecting them has way too many breaks, especially as the film progresses. Things are handed in too easily or are completely indigestible.

Yet there are many fascinating facets. The vulnerability and pettiness of the directionless youth and how easily influenced they can be. The tyranny of the people who think they are working for a larger purpose but are doing nothing but serving their personal aspirations. And not just the politicians, all of us, including Sikandar are self-centered and self-preservation is our only goal. Guns belong to soldiers and that's where they should be.

A man denies a girl her tears – does his capacity for cruelty need any more illustration? And even the glaring, on-the-face climax which leaves the future of this beautiful part of the world in the hands of the same youth - who have grown with their experiences in the last few weeks, who might have matured beyond their age due to the situation the adults around put them in.

The problem is other than the overall picture, there isn't much going right in Sikandar. Apart from being full of holes, the story is pretty much predictable. Though it's difficult to say if it was the director's intention to cue the audience in. Because a lot of the acting gives away the ensuing "twist".

Parzaan Dastur playing the lead doesn't seems to have carried on his dialogue delivery style from Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. And Black's Ayesha Kapoor just about manages to convince us of her character, Nasreen. A lot of these issues have to do with the completely off-sync dubbing. I wouldn't be surprised if I were told that the actors didn't dub for themselves. Also, R. Madhavan and Sanjay Suri barely have a role to showcase any of the skills we know they have.

No doubt, this is a low-budget film and needs to be applauded for shooting in Kashmir. I liked the times when the camera moved like a soft wave. But, there surely must have been more ways to capture her beauty than to take touristy shots at dawn and dusk.

I can't but resist thinking, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy saying, "itna paisa mein itnaich milega" (Channel V Adage, this is all you'll get for the fee you're paying me). Just didn't believe the credits when I saw them. Also, the background music was nice but some-or-the-other tune playing for the full run-time got annoying. It felt like I wanted a time-out to enjoy some Kashmir in peace.

Despite all its shortcomings, I'd still want you to watch Sikandar, maybe no one needs to rush to the theater but a fair watch nevertheless. Just to bring you that one inch closer to the (quoting Madhavan's character, Rao) heaven "man shouldn't have touched" albeit from the safety of our homes.

- meeta, a part of the audience

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: Gun shots, fist-fights and bomb blasts. It's Kashmir after all.
  • Language: Clean Urdu
  • Nudity & Sexual content: None at all!
  • Concept: Fanaticism, political aims, kids being lured into war.
  • General Look and Feel: It's not the typical bright-peppy atmosphere though the two main leads are kids.

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

  • Direction: 2.5
  • Story: 3.5
  • Lead Actors: 2
  • Character Artists: 2
  • Dialogues: 2.5
  • Screenplay: 2
  • Music Director: 1
  • Lyrics: 3

Sikandar - Movie Details

Sikandar - Trailer

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