By: Amul Vikas Mohan
Pooja Entertainment, T-Series and Legend Studios’ SARBJIT is a true life tale of a sister (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan) fight against the world for the freedom of her brother (Randeep Hooda). A carefree Hooda who stays with his aged father, his wife (Richa Chadda), two daughters and sister in a small Punjab village close to the border of Pakistan goes missing one night. After nine months a letter arrives from Pakistan to the house and in which Hooda re-tells the horror he had to suffer after he was caught by the Pakistani army who are convinced that Hooda is an Indian spy in Pakistan and is solely responsible for a bombing in Lahore. The cops in Pakistan think that Hooda is in fact Ranjit Singh who is the chief accused in the bombing case and because of the horrific torture Hooda had to be undergo in the prison he confesses to the crimes of Ranjit Singh. Bachchan on the other hand struggles to get ministers’ attention and finally her hard work pays off when she manages to get a meeting with the Prime Minister of the country who assures her that they will do everything in their power to get Hooda back to India. After the Supreme Court in Pakistan sentences Hooda to a death penalty Bachchan’s real struggle begins to convince everyone that it’s simply a case of mistaken identity but it all falls on deaf ears! The rest of the story is about how Bachchan doesn’t succeed her lifelong battle to bring her brother back to India and how she finds another fight to get the right thing done.
The movie starts off well with the world that Omung Kumar and his writers try to build, comes across believable and the bond between the brother and sister is treated very well. The movie then takes a serious turn. The torture sequences are shocking and the pain of Randeep’s character is simply heartbreaking. As an audience your heart goes out to the struggle of Aishwarya’s character as well. There are a couple of well executed sequences like the one where Aishwarya’s character gets off the bus and sits in the middle of the road is a great one. Richa’s breakdown with Aishwarya in the second half is also a very well written and performed scene. Aishwarya eventual outburst in front of the hospital is a brilliantly handled sequence and it stirs the patriotic feel. Hooda’s entire struggle after he’s caught is the highlight of the film.
On the other hand however, the movie gets too heavy cause it’s inherently a very somber story. There is no sense of the conventional relief in the movie. A back and forth kind of screenplay would have really helped the narrative in a movie this dark in its tone. Although the runtime of the movie is just over two hours the movie feels longer because some of the sequences tend of get repetitive as the story doesn’t move quickly enough.
Production values are apt. Cinematography by Kiran Deohans is brilliant and one of the high points of the movie. Editing by Rajesh Pandey could’ve been a little tighter. Music by various directors is perfect while watching the film. However the Salamat track by Amaal Malik is the pick of the lot. Special mention should be made of the look and make up of all the actors in the cast.
Performance-wise, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan excels in the role of Dalbir Kaur. The audiences are with her right from the start of the film to the end. Her calmness and her helplessness is heart-wrenching. However there is only one star of this enterprise and that is Randeep Hooda. Hooda is a superlative actor but he outdoes himself in the title role here. He is what makes this movie work. Richa Chadda is good but she also shows her real acting prowess in that one scene in the second half. Darshan Kumaar does really well. Others in the cast provide able support.
As a director, Omung Kumar does a fair job. He handles the sensitivity of the subject matter like a pro.
At the box-office
The film will win a lot of hearts and given its low cost will be a profitable venture for all the parties involved.