Recreating history on celluloid can be as tough as catching a whale in deep ocean. Besides the financial ability to make your dreams come true, you also need to get the facts right. And achieving the results can prove to be a Herculean task.
Dr. Chandraprakash Dwivedi's PINJAR, based on Amrita Pritam's novel of the same name, is an honest effort at recreating history.
PINJAR, produced by Lucky Star's Entertainment Ltd., depicts riots, mayhem, human sufferings and hope.
During the partition, full-scale riots broke out in which lakhs of families were displaced overnight. Thousands of helpless women were raped and kidnapped as communal and political tensions let loose in the Indo-Pak border villages.
The story revolves around five principal characters ï¿½
Puro [Urmila Matondkar] is a victim of circumstances. An unfortunate incident changes her life foreverï¿½ Rashid [Manoj Bajpai] has committed an unpardonable crimeï¿½ Ramchand [Sanjay Suri] is engaged to Puro. But loses everything ï¿½ his family, his beloved, his richesï¿½ Laajo [Sandali Sinha] is married to Trilok [Priyanshu Chatterjee]. Her life takes a dramatic twist during the partition riotsï¿½ Trilok is torn between relationships within the family.
PINJAR succeeds on various levels ï¿½
The ambience is so life-like that the viewer is immediately transported to the pre-independence era, when the seeds of partition were sown.
The characters seem straight out of life. The Hindu-Muslim divide, the revenge, the helplessness, the bond between parent and child, amongst siblings as well, right to the traditions, rituals and beliefs of that epoch ï¿½ seldom has the pre-independence era been depicted with such precision.
Ramesh Sippy's television epic BUNIYAAD depicted that era with meticulousness when aired in the 1980s. Dr. Chandraprakash Dwivedi's big-screen adaptation of Amrita Pritam's novel is another shining example of Bollywood coming of age.
Dr. Chandraprakash Dwivedi chooses a difficult story for his big screen debut. Fortunately, he gets it right on all fronts, barring two aspects. But more on that later!
Besides conveying the anguish and trauma of a young girl with utmost precision, Dwivedi unfolds a saga without bowing down to commercial dictates. Besides exploring the era with flourish, Dwivedi also succeeds in creating the right atmosphere for the actors to slip into their roles.
There's no denying that Dwivedi is an exceptional story teller. The film depicts history in the right perspective ï¿½ not once does the narrative take a stand against any community or religion. Also, thankfully, there's no Pak bashing this time around!
But, as pointed out earlier, the film slips intermittently on two counts ï¿½
One, the excessive length of the film [20 reels; 3-hour plus duration] would certainly tax the patience of the viewer. Towards the second half specifically, the narrative tends to get lengthy, making it look like a never-ending saga. Deleting a song or two and even a few sequences would only sharpen the narrative.
The second drawback is co-related to the above-mentioned point. The pace of the film drops before the pre-climax, when Urmila makes an effort to rescue Sandali from the clutches of a Muslim family. Re-editing/trimming these portions would only help.
However, the climax, the culmination of the saga, is the best part of the enterprise. The finale is apt ï¿½ emotional by nature and perfect in the context of the story. The sensitive handling of the climax and the brilliant portrayal by the principal artistes stays in your heart even after the show has ended.
Music [Uttam Singh] is mellifluous; it gels well with the period look. 'Watna Ve' is the pick of the lot, more so because of its rich lyrical value. Cinematography [Santosh Thundiyil] is of international standards. It gives the film the look of an epic. The locations also succeed in taking you to that period.
Dialogues [Dr. Chandraprakash Dwivedi] are brilliant. Ranging from poetic to acidic to patriotic, the dialogues add sheen to the enterprise. Costumes and sets [Muneesh Sappel] deserve a special mention as well.
Performance-wise, PINJAR rests on two strong shoulders ï¿½ Urmila Matondkar and Manoj Bajpai. Urmila transforms into Puro with such correctness that it's impossible to believe that it's an actress portraying a part. She is so believable. With PINJAR, besides BHOOT, the actress not merely takes a step forward, but plunges ahead with a giant leap.
Manoj Bajpai is outstanding in a role that seems tailormade for him. After Bhiku Mhatre in SATYA, this is yet another performance that is sure to win him awards, rewards [more film assignments] and bouquets [fan following].
Priyanshu is first-rate, making you realise that here's a reservoir of talent that needs to be tapped. Sanjay Suri is excellent ï¿½ controlled, subdued and likeable. Here's an actor who deserves to be picked up by qualitative film-makers.
Sandali Sinha is efficient, slipping into her part with ease. Isha Koppikar doesn't get much scope. Seema Biswas is wasted. Lillete Dubey and Kulbhushan Kharbanda, as Urmila's parents, are natural to the core.
On the whole, PINJAR caters more to the thinking audience. Also, it's for those who like period fares. At the box-office, its business will vary from circuit to circuit, with multiplexes at metros fetching better dividends. However, clash of four films in the same week and also the beginning of the Ramzan period after a few days will make a dent in its business.
Most importantly, the business may get affected due to its excessive length. A substantial amount of revenue would be lost due to the theatres performing three shows daily, instead of four shows.
However, despite the shortcomings, fact cannot be denied that PINJAR is a film worth watching!