“SARBJIT” is well-intentioned but lacks finesse!
Rushed events, abruptly switching scenes, unconvincing developments and contrived emotions form the key features of this new film directed by Omung Kumar, which despite having its heart at the right place, fails due to naïve execution. Hooda keeps you invested, but Aishwarya’s constantly dramatic yelling doesn’t really help. While it’s totally watchable, it isn’t memorable!
The film follows the real story of Sarbjit Singh (Randeep Hooda), an Indian resident of the Bhikhiwind village at the Indo-Pak border, who was convicted as a terrorist by Pakistan's Supreme Court in 1991. he was mistaken to be an Indian spy and was sentenced to capital punishment. After 22 years on death row, he was attacked by fellow inmates in jail and died in a Lahore hospital six days later.
There are quite a few things to like here. Authentic set designs, aesthetic visual frames, greatly veridical dialect and ofcourse, good intentions. But what this film lacks, is the depth in content. You hardly feel for the truly unfortunate series of events that Sarbjit went through. His struggle, although shown with full intensity, isn’t devoid of manipulated emotions, placed-in merely to induce tears.
While you are kept involved in all that’s happening, you’re never quite emotionally invested, owing to ill-written characters, hastened screenplay and sometimes even inappropriate casting. You have scenes jump abruptly from one to another, too frequently for your liking. You also find several convenient coincidences that make the proceedings improbable at times.
To the film’s credit, the look and feel is consistently real. You truly are transported to that time and place till you’re watching. How I wish more time was given to constructing the screenplay in a genuinely moving manner rather than the pretentious display that it is. Even the day of his capture is designed in the most contrived manner. The struggle of Sarbjit’s sister Dalbir isn’t given the kind of momentum that can arouse the viewers. A lot of it is again due to the problem of hurried narrative. Director Omung Kumar’s last film “Mary Kom” had the same flaw, which deterred it from becoming the classic that it could’ve been.
Randeep Hooda is the reason you feel for this film. It’s hard to believe anyone else now in this role. A lesser actor could’ve totally ruined the whole scheme of events. But Hooda’s immaculate portrayal (atleast it seems so) does justice in every which way. His body language too speaks volumes. He evokes all the intended emotions and touches all the right chords to make sure he stays in your mind long after you’ve left. He’s perhaps the only thing you’ll remember once you leave the theatre. Aishwarya Rai, contrary to expectations, doesn’t give her best here. Her portrayal of Dalbir, the sister fighting for justice, is too loud and overplayed. She fails to strike a genuine chord and despite putting in a lot of efforts in her look and manners, her performance lacks the nuances you’d expect of this character. Richa Chadha does well, but seems miscast, as there’s very little demanded of her in this role. Darshan Kumar does his bit appropriately.
To sum up then, “SARBJIT” isn’t the kind of cinema that makes a difference. Worth a watch, just don’t expect a lot!
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