wogma rating: Watch but no rush (?)

quick review:

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

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Director: Omang Kumar
Running time: 130 minutes
More Movie Info

Sarbjit - Preview

Her character cried for her daughter, this one will wail for her brother – Being sad seems to translate to good acting in Aishwarya Rai's books. The despair in the eyes that means the character grieves beyond repair has gotten too repetitive all too quickly.

Hopefully, the film will have a lot more happening other than the above to tug our hearts and keep the pull on. Randeep Hooda' performance for instance is something to look forward to even if it looks a little over the top in being hysterical. I assume for now the story requires the eccentricity.

Sarbjit's trailer make you enter the cinema hall with unsure steps, a heart hoping to be moved, while the brain trying its best to keep away from disappointment.

Music Reviews:
Bollyspice – "3.5/5"
Bollywood Hungama - "3/5"
Milliblog - "Despite the streak of sadness all through the soundtrack, there’s some good music in here!"

- meeta, a part of the audience

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

23 reviewers(?) - 6 yays 7 so-so 10 nays

Warning: clicking on "full review" will take you to an external website that could contain spoilers.

Thumbs up, by Subhash K Jha, Bolly Spice : ...As for this being Ms Bachchan’s Mother India, I am not too sure if hyperbole is an option here. Sarbjit has immense poignancy at its heart. But the execution of the theme of a homesick dying man imprisoned in a hostile country often tends to lean dangerously close to populism. Sarbjit manages to keep its head above the water even while the proceedings frequently revel in crowd-wooing conventions like singing dancing and rabble-rousing rhetorics. ... full review

Thumbs up, Bollywood Hungama : ...On the whole, SARBJIT is a landmark film with great performances and a superbly told narrative. The entertainment quotient is missing which is compensated by the phenomenal manner in which the story is told. At the box office, it will be appreciated by matured audience. ... full review

Thumbs up, by Rachit Gupta, Filmfare : ...Director Omung Kumar's intentions are novel and he tries his best at keeping Sarbjit both an entertaining and authentic film. Sadly, the balanced approach doesn't work. This subject needed bare, gritty intensity like that of Neerja or Masaan. ... full review

Thumbs up, by Srijana Mitra Das, Times of India : ...Yet, the story deftly weaves in a larger backdrop, from Pokhran to Parliament, 26/11 to Kasab, the editing sharp, the visuals - blue-green skies, grim dark cells, Sukh's red 'lapstick', Sarbjit's blackened ankles - memorable. The direction depicts a human being and a human truth - individuals often face prisons of politics where the innocent can be shackled in darkness. Yet, the story deftly weaves in a larger backdrop, from Pokhran to Parliament, 26/11 to Kasab, the editing sharp, the visuals - blue-green skies, grim dark cells, Sukh's red 'lapstick', Sarbjit's blackened ankles - memorable. The direction depicts a human being and a human truth - individuals often face prisons of politics where the innocent can be shackled in darkness. ... full review

Thumbs up, by Pallavi Patra, Zee News : ...The biopic will strike a chord for its genuine attempt to share a story not told on the celluloid before, coupled by stellar performances of its lead, particularly the man himself – Randeep Hooda. Once again, Randeep has proved what a gem of an actor he could be. ... full review

So-So, by Sreeju Sudhakaran, Bollywood Life : ...Sarbjit should have been the film that could have brought out issues of human rights being oppressed in favour of political games, but what it turns out to be is a nearly three hours of inconsistent and flawed storytelling. Watch the film purely for the performances, especially Randeep’s and the core plot! ... full review

So-So, by Mehul S Thakkar, Deccan Chronicle : ...Overall, the film takes you on an emotional ride and makes you question a lot about the political crisis between two countries. It is up to the audience to judge whether Sarabjit was an Indian spy or an innocent farmer. However, his journey is something that must be experienced in the theaters. ... full review

So-So, by Ameet Bhuvan, Desi Martini : ... Sarbjit is a good movie to watch to get an insight into Indo-Pakistan relationships. It is also a story of strength of spirit and determination. Worth a watch if you can get over the disappointment of Aishwarya Rai, look past her and see the real Daljit. ... full review

So-So, by Smita Vyas Kumar, Desi Martini : ...If you like tear jerkers, the kind JP Dutta made about wars in the past, then Sarabjit might move you. If you like cinema that at least attempts to tell a story, well you shall move out of the hall showing this film. Eitherways, one thing everyone would agree on is that Ash looked much better with purple lips in a picture- silent pretty- most importantly, silent. Sigh! ... full review

So-So, by Shubha Shetty-Saha, MiD DAY : ...She, more or less, gets into character and brings in a lot of energy and required aggression to the table. But, there are points when she simply goes overboard with her display of rage and emotions. The ever dependable Richa Chadha as Sarabjit's wife doesn't have much scope for performance, but she does a good job of being the timid, trusting woman that she's supposed to play.... full review

So-So, by Jaidev Hemmady, Movie Talkies : ...Another issue we have with this film is the way it stretches in the second half of the film and some crisp editing would have surely worked wonders for the film, which goes on and on after the interval. ... full review

So-So, by Sonia Chopra, Sify Movies : ...Director Omung Kumar picks up a real-life story yet again, after his debut film Mary Kom. Sarabjit is an ambitious story to pick for a second film, riddled as it is with undertones of Indo-Pak political tensions, human rights issues and the like. Kumar does a fair job, but the film bears the brunt of melodrama rearing its head in the form of flashbacks and over-the-top dialogue. And honestly, the director quoting himself at the end of the film is bizarre. ... full review

Thumbs down, by Anna MM Vetticad, annavetticadgoes2themovies : ...Omung Kumar debuted with Mary Kom in which, despite the grievous offence of casting Priyanka Chopra as a Manipuri woman, he pulled through on the strength of Saiwyn Quadras’ solid script, Chopra’s acting talent and his own firm directorial hand. Here though, he seems scattered and star-struck. It is as if he zeroed in on a star and built a film around her. Big mistake. ... full review

Thumbs down, by Baradwaj Rangan, Blogical Conclusion, The New Sunday Express : ...This is a remarkable real-life story, with remarkable emotional peaks. When Sarbjit receives his first letter in prison, his name is struck out, and the name “Ranjit” is written over it – that’s whose crimes he’s being accused of.... full review

Thumbs down, by Johnson Thomas, Free Press Journal : ...Omung Kumar and team should have worked harder on fashioning a believable and much more grittier script. The camerawork by Kiran Deohans isn’t able to overcome the superficiality that underlines this enterprise. The editing attempts to add complexity by going back and forth in time but instead makes it even more untenable. And the loud and obviously ingratiating background score and songs adds to the film’s many woes. ... full review

Thumbs down, by Sweta Kaushal, Hindustan Times : ...Despite the heavy, tragic air of the film, there are a few breathers – the mini flashback scenes of Sarabjit with his family are touching. In one of the initial sequences, we also see a grieving Aishwarya clinging on to her still-born child. Randeep convinces her to give up the infant’s body. Delicately done, this is one of the rare winning subtle moments. ... full review

Thumbs down, by Suhani Singh, india today : ...The director's decision to end the film with his own didactic quote than with Kaur's words is unfortunate and denies the real Kaur a platform to speak about her battle or her brother. Instead we get are photos of the man himself and his family which will make viewers more mournful for the clan than the film itself.... full review

Thumbs down, by Surabhi Redkar, koimoi : ...Sarbjit fails to rise above its commercial nature to actually hit you in the gut with its real story. I am going with a 2/5 for the film. ... full review

Thumbs down, by Uday Bhatia , Live Mint : ...There’s little doubt that Rai Bachchan is moved by the character she’s playing. You can see her get lost in the emotion—voice hoarse, eyes red, body quivering with rage. The result is a lot of visible hard work, but not quite a great performance. Chadha, catatonic for the most part, still manages to inject a few shades of doubt and jealousy into her under-written character. Rai Bachchan shows us Dalbir’s determination and little else. She attacks every scene with such hoarse fervour that she turns Dalbir into something less than a character and more of an ideal. ... full review

Thumbs down, by Saibal Chatterjee, NDTV : ...With the star not shining all that bright and the actors in the mix not allowed to play the game their way, Sarbjit is a well-meaning outing that fails to do justice to its subject. ... full review

Thumbs down, by Sukanya Verma, Rediff : ...A better-written script would encapsulate the impact of all the harassment and isolation on his desperate psyche, the response of his loved ones on seeing a healthy man in a damaged state like that haunting final encounter between Chandrachur Singh and Tabu in Maachis. ... full review

Thumbs down, by Raja Sen, Rediff : ...This time around, the director tries too hard to get things to flow, starting with much cross-cutting only to end up with a highly linear and disjointed narrative with ill-suited songs. ... full review

19 tweeters(?) - 17 yays 1 so-so 1 nays

UrsOnly0: #Sarbjit is has so much detailing in every scene...cinematography is brilliant

UrsOnly0: Saw #Sarbjit for 4th time...tears still rolls down...We are too small to comment on family sufferings @OmungKumar heartliest thanks

trendstodayapp: #Sarbjit is a movie that everyone should watch - #ImtiazAli at the special screening of #Sarbjit. via @TSeries

TheTeeFactory: Stellar performances in #Sarbjit - @RandeepHooda take a bow!! Salute

swapnil_beohar: Watched #Sarbjit just awesome words to describe emotions ...@RandeepHooda your acting was class

sanju89157: Sarbjit is fantastic performance by hooda paji loved it ❤ & seen 5 times ✌ #sarbjit#sarbhitmovie#20may

ramsjoyy: Very hard hitting movie. Randeep and aish are fantastic. Drinking is very very injurious to life

RakBak16: You may miss a meal, miss your jog, miss your ride, or miss saying I Love You to someone. But try not to miss this lovely film #Sarbjit.

MelodiousBirdie: #Sarbjit is a must watch! Immense courage, spirit and determination of Dalbir Kaurji!

MelodiousBirdie: #Sarbjit has been watched. Sobbed throughout. It's painful, tragic but par excellence!

Meanqueen97: #Sarbjit @RandeepHooda brilliant actor, brilliant movie. ❤️❤️

JatalSatyajeet: Absolutely loved #Sarbjit Phenomonal performance by @RandeepHooda & #AshwariyaRai

HurrrKaur: Just saw #Sarbjit Amazing movie and and hats off for performance by #RandeepHooda #AishwaryaRaiBachchan @RichaChadha_

Himanshu_sh93: To be honest, Sarbjit is very disturbing movie. What happened to Sarbjit was inhuman. @RandeepHooda as Sarbjit is AMAZING. #Sarbjit

DholWajdaMedia: Sarbjit Movie Review 4/5 @RandeepHooda @AishwaryaRaiWeb done great job #DholWajda

cynic_wall: What a heart wrenching story of #Sarbjit and what brilliance @RandeepHooda is. Witnessed exactly what pain he had gone through.

careankur: What a movie SARABJIT is! !! It is something very different. #Sarbjit Superb Acting by #RandeepHooda #AishwaryaRaiBachchan #omungkumar

Randomically_Me: #Sarbjit - Watch it only for @RandeepHooda. He is beyond comparison the way he has got into the character.

SuperGops: Aishwarya Rai is no newbie but doesn't understand that shouting from bottom of throat like Sunny Deol isn't acting #Sarbjit

1 readers - 0 yays 0 so-so 1 nays

Nay! Thumbs Down, by Suman

This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.

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):

Lead Actors:
Character Artists:
Music Director:

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

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

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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