Siddharth The Prisoner poster

Siddharth The Prisoner

wogma rating: Beg or borrow, but do watch (?)

quick review:

It's dark and it's abstract and it'll make you think. What is it that will liberate you from the trappings of life? An outstanding performance by Rajat Kapoor and some thoughtful yet simple background music keep you company in this extremely slow-paced film.

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Director: Pryas Gupta
Running time: 90 minutes
More Movie Info

Siddharth The Prisoner - Preview

NOT A REVIEW - Just looking forward to a 'different' movie...

There isn't much buzz around this film on the web except for this little bit here. Isn't that a shame considering it won the 'Jury Grand Prize' at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards, 2008 and Rajat Kapoor won the best actor award at the Osian's cinefan, 2008?

The film's premise as expressed by Rajat Kapoor is extremely intriguing -

The idea is of imprisonment, and how that relates to the human condition. It’s an abstract film.

Also turns out his look has been inspired by Che Guevara, the Latin American revolutionary. In director Pryas Gupta's words -

The central concept of Siddharth - The Prisoner is freedom from the complexities of life and who better than the god of freedom, Che Guevara, to represent that spirit. Rajat's character is all about the journey to actual freedom

I'm certainly looking forward to this one. Enjoy the trailer meanwhile,

- meeta, a part of the audience

An abused flat, visually so filthy that you can sense the stink it must carry. But, it must also feel like abundant luxury for someone just out of prison. The word 'prison' brings dark images to the mind even without the heavy bluish-gray tinge given to it in Siddharth - The Prisoner. These first few, short and lingering sequences bring on the mood of melancholy that doesn't go away.

While soaking in these bits of Siddharth's (Rajat Kapoor's) newfound freedom you can't but help notice the background music. The keys of a typewriter tapping along to the notes of a piano. A string instrument joins later only waiting for the tinkering bell to make the rhythm complete. And the pause in the score while abrupt seems to be a part of the music itself. And soon the music becomes repetitive enough to blend with other elements and doesn't distract.

A lot of being able to notice these details has to do with the minimal dialogues. There are long spans of dialogue-free movement. And yet somehow, you are tempted to think that there's something wrong with Mohan's (Sachin Nayak) righteousness. You are not surprised with how Amin (Pradip Sagar) and Aseem (Pradeep Kabra) interact and react. You are very aware of Siddharth's dilemma. And Siddharth puts to rest all my doubts about Rajat Kapoor's versatility. I was completely blown away by the way his body conveyed his thoughts. The rest, though not outstanding, don't make you doubt their behavior.

Throughout the film, Hulla kept coming to mind. Maybe because the pace was similar and both had Rajat Kapoor. But somehow the brown hue and the desire to show the futility of our persistence and ambitions had the same taste and feel in both movies. Except in this one it worked for me. And yet there were phases in the movie where I could make a mental trip to the world outside that theater and come back. When that happens in a 90 minute film, it leaves a sense of incompleteness.

The only way to liberate yourself is to let go. Let go of your attachments and your worldly needs. Our desires and thus our existence are in vain. The perceived 'purpose of life' is only a big sham. There is no breaking free from this tone of failure and dejection that runs heavy through the movie. As there are no conclusions to such thoughts. Then why should the movie that deals with them offer closings? To me having no resolutions is better than having hurried ones, and contrived ones are worse.

If you're the kind of person who sees a person walking out of a prison and absolutely has to know why he was in, this one is not for you. If you like your movies nicely tied up in the end, skip it for your own sake. If you like it gift-wrapped and presented in your hands, Siddharth - The Prisoner will be a 'must skip' for you. Me? Well, I enjoy my abstractly beautiful and beautifully abstract films as much as the well-thought-out masala ones, so I'd have hated to miss it.

- meeta, a part of the audience

18 reviewers(?) - 2 yays 7 so-so 9 nays

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

Thumbs up, by Janhvi Patel, StarBoxOffice : ...The movie makes for an engrossing, at times heartbreaking watch.... full review

Thumbs up, by Nikhat Kazmi, Times of India : ... A metaphorical film about freedom and desire, the film keeps you engrossed.... full review

So-So, by Udita Jhunjhunwala, DNA : ...Pryas Gupta has created a technically adept debut feature. His story's central idea is noble, timeless and relevant... full review

So-So, by Martin D'souza, : ...Even though the plot is vague, the film captivates you with its twists.... full review

So-So, by Shashi Baliga, Hindustan Times : ...Rajat Kapoor puts in an earnest performance, given the rather monochromatic character sketch he has to work with.... full review

So-So, by Gaurav Malani, indiatimes : ... Needless time is devoted to the buildup of the narrative throughout the first half.... full review

So-So, MovieWalah : ...Siddharth The Prisoner is a film with an interesting premise which gets lost in execution.... full review

So-So, by Anupama Chopra, NDTV : ...It asks us to overcome our longings and desires and explores renunciation as the path to freedom.... full review

So-So, by Padmaja Thakore, Passion for Cinema : ...Rajat Kapoor’s act is the mainstay of the film and he does ample justice to his role.... full review

Thumbs down, : ...The film moves at a snail's pace and you realise there is nothing significant happening through the film.... full review

Thumbs down, by Aditya Mehta, Buzz18 : ...This movie is peppered with words that are unnecessary and do nothing for the story.... full review

Thumbs down, by Rajeev Masand, IBN Live : ...Siddharth The Prisoner feels like a short film that's been stretched into a feature... full review

Thumbs down, by Taran Adarsh, IndiaFM : unconventional plotline, but what comes across is quite abstract.... full review

Thumbs down, by Ashok Nayak, Now : ... full review

Thumbs down, by Goher Iqbal Punn, Radio Sargam : ...‘Siddharth – The Prisoner’ is a big lackluster in terms of quality and even from all aspects.... full review

Thumbs down, by Sonia Chopra, Sify Movies : ...Apart from the script that hardly impresses, the film’s major flaw is that it doesn’t make the viewer feel for Siddharth.... full review

Thumbs down, : ...Overall, the movie is a total failure.... full review

Thumbs down, Zee News : ...‘Siddharth-the Prisoner’ is low on quality in terms of cinematic value.... full review

Twitter reviews for this movie are not available.

2 readers - 1 yays 1 so-so 0 nays

Yay! Thumbs Up, by Raj : Good

So-So, by violence : Andrews Farm

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

Plot Summary

Siddharth, a once-famous author is just out of jail. He wishes to reboot his life slowly, gradually. Only to find himself in possession of a huge sum of money in exchange for a story he has written presumably about his life in prison.

What Worked

  • The play of power between Asim, Amin, and Mohan.
  • The attitude of the police towards a writer.
  • The promo kept coming to me and it made me curious about the movie even while I was watching it.
  • The kid smoking in the background.
  • People playing Goddess Laxmi (the Goddess of wealth) in the foreground and the same wealth creating havoc in the lives of all people involved in the background.
  • Is honesty actually stupidity?

What did not

Note: This section simply lists the things that I did not like in this movie. This is not the overall impression about this movie. Please read the full review here

  • The shots of VT station in the beginning? Why were they there?
  • The religious references. Didn't make much sense and sort-of distracted from the point.

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: Goons beating up and killing each other.
  • Language: Abusive Hindi words used 3-4 times.
  • Nudity & Sexual content: None
  • Concept: Philosophy and psychology well beyond the grasping capacity of children, I'd think.
  • General Look and Feel: A gray, brown and generally dark tinge throughout the movie. No songs or dances to distract children or adults.

Siddharth The Prisoner - Cast, crew, links

Official Sites:
Supporting Cast:
Background Score:
Music Director:
Running time:
90 minutes

Comments (5)

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Raj D

Dear Meetu, Nice to see you write this review. I am extremely pleased. I think, this is one of the very few instance, that you have taken a movie that is not so popular and even though many well-known critics had given below-par ratings. Though there are obvious pot-holes in the script, the movie is well made, and you have done full justice of being independent objective critic. Cheers...

@Raj Thank you! I am glad I could watch it. Many a time, a film doesn't release in my city or it releases in a theater too far away. I don't mind going to those theaters at inconvenient times but two things come in the way -
- safety, I am worried about being one of very few to watch the film: sometimes just one or two other people
- theaters often cancel the show because there aren't enough people to watch it. It is a waste of the time and money. :(

But yeah, I am glad I got to watch this one!


Meetu, I am glad you replied. I thought you won't. I read wogma everyday since its inception, when it was just in a blog format (remember that?), and that time I used to stay in Amsterdam. Your blog was my source of good Indian movies review. In Amsterdam, I saw many international movies, and good ones too, and you are right - many a times, there is no audience. Except there, even if I am ALL ALONE in the theatre, they will run the show with one person. I think such thing is not possible in India. Looking forward to some good reviews of good movies by you.
Also it is nice to see that your perception of our relationship which many a times has gone up and down (love and hate) - and I find solace that we seem to have hit a bit of balance and I have mellowed down and you've been more acceptable to my comments. Sincerely Thankful..

Oh come on. Two people, two ways of thinking. Top it up with perceptions. The differences will always be there. No big deal, right?

Raj D.

Dear Meetu, right! Thanks for being so understanding...

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