Film: “Sarhad Paar”; Cast: Sanjay Dutt, Tabu, Mahima Chaudhary, Chandrachur Singh, Akash Khurana; Director: Raman Kumar
You gaze at Tabu – that wonderful actress, who has constantly been short-changed by filmmakers barring a few who have tried to capture her essence, and succeeded in just touching the lapel of her talent.
In director Raman Kumar’s unfinished look at the wounds caused by wars and ravages across the borders, Tabu plays the wife of a prisoner of war who has lost his memory during interrogation and torture.
The healing process could have been tender and evocative. Alas, it becomes a source of tremendous torture for us. “Sarhad Paar” is as tedious and unclear about its motives as a rudderless steamboat that’s run out of steam.
The material is obviously unfinished and the second half desperately aims at creating a kitschy excitement.
Guns boom in gurdwaras, women wail in clumsily recorded banshee voices – tells you what not to put on a vacant soundtrack.
Poor Tabu. She struggles to remain coherent and graceful in a plot that loses its way in a lamentable labyrinth of painful compromises.
Sanjay Dutt wears a bewildered expression, half-hidden by a turban and totally eclipsed by the cinematographer (Manmohan Singh), who’s asked to simulate sunshine out of a mournfully mixed-up and gloomy mish-mash of politics and trash.
On the plus side, the film has been shot on location in a dusty village of Punjab. We can almost smell the ‘mitti’ (soil) in the gallis (lanes).
But the emotions remain largely unattainable in the melee of mix-n-match emotions – all tied together by a will to somehow get the doomed plot to its finishing line.
If you’re a big Tabu fan as I am, then walk out in the first-half. That’s when the script decides not to give her and us a fair deal.