Friday, May 05, 2017


He's Rolling In His Grave For Sure!

½ star

Mini Review:

Poor Manto! The filmmakers aspire real high when they take not one but four of his stories, loosely set during the time of the Partition of India and mutilate every single one of them. The execution of each story is sensationalized and turned sleazy. You come away disgusted.

Main Review:

Thanda Gosht, Khol Do, Assignment and Akhri Salute are the four stories of the celebrated writer Sadaat Hasan Manto that have been turned into one gigantic mess. The four stories run parallel as they are told, but we won’t make the same unpalatable mistake.

Thanda Gosht casts the Sikhs in very poor light (which is not how we perceive them). It stars Ishar Singh who kills people running for their lives during the Partition, to steal jewelry for his girl Kulwant. At best, Sonal Sehgal who plays Kulvant, is awkward mouthing her dialog to show that she’s sexy and all about the body. At worst the poor lovemaking scenes, and there are plenty, make Ishar and Kulvant look extremely ridiculous. The story is dark and explores the inhumanity that the war-like situation brings out in people. Imagine a young lad who has lost all his finer feelings when killing people, makes love to a girl and he does not even realise she’s dead. Manto told us war was making us less than human, but the way it is told in the film, dumb.

Khol Do is the story of a girl so traumatised by the many times she has been raped, she just removes her shalwaar when she hears the words ‘khol do’ (literally, undo or open), even when it is being said by a doctor who is asking for the curtain to the tent to be drawn open. Had they not had Raghubir Yadav overdo the ‘Where’s my daughter?’ act with his eyes half closed is more laughable than empathy-inducing. Of course the girl has been raped by the lads who volunteer to go look for her… They needed to attend acting classes, like, yesterday.

Assignment again, curiously is a story of a Muslim man refusing to escape to safety because ‘he’s lived among ‘them’ for years, and his belief in his Sikh neighbors is kept and yet they betray him. The story is beautiful, but Veerendra Saxena (who is usually very good) hams it like nobody would watch his abysmal portrayal. His daughter, son and servant don’t help at all. Of course, a Sardar knocks on their door, and gives mithai (as his dad had promised before dying) then betrays them to looters. Short story, dragged until you’d want to set their home on fire yourself.

Akhri Salaam is about soldiers who served in the same regiment once now divided by the partition into fighting against each other. Of course the story was relevant once and there is dignity shown by both Pakistani and Indian soldiers, but it gets dragged so much (stilted dialog, odd camera angles) you want to fall on the bayonet yourself.

The bizarre splicing together of four stories makes no sense whatsoever. Just because the filmmakers chose to ride on the shoulder of a literary giant does not make the film worthy. Such a pitiful waste of a good idea.

(this review appears on nowrunning dot com)     

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