Jog your memory and recall films highlighting the nuisance called dowry. Images of a number of movies would instantly conjure up in front of your eyes. Now think of groom kidnapping. Have you heard of it or 'Pakrauah Shaadi' [that's how it is referred to in North India]? I had vaguely heard of it once, but was clueless about the reasons that prompt people to kidnap eligible bachelors. ANTARDWAND not only spells out the reasons, but also tackles the issue with rare understanding.
Cinema lovers are thirsting for novel and untold stories and ANTARDWAND is a applaud-worthy film that fills the void. Real, disturbing and shocking, ANTARDWAND, reportedly based on a true story, is a power-packed film. If you crave for new stories and often complain that Hindi films have started stagnating, ANTARDWAND should be your pick this weekend.
Final word? The year 2010 has seen a number of 'small' or low cost films having a lot to offer in the dark confines of an auditorium. Now add ANTARDWAND to that list!
Raghuveer [Raj Singh Chaudhary], who has just appeared for his Civil Services exams, is admonished by his father [Vinay Pathak] against marrying his pregnant girlfriend in Delhi. Distraught and defenseless, Raghu terminates his visit home in the interiors of Bihar and leaves for Delhi. But before he could get out of the village, he is abducted by another headstrong and ambitious father [Akhilendra Mishra] of a girl [Swati Sen] wanting to have a potential IAS officer as his son-in-law.
The boy is forcibly married off at gun point, much against his and the girl's own wishes. Once married, they are locked up in a room for several days till they consummate their marriage and accept each other completely. But do they accept each other in the face of inevitability?
Director Sushil Rajpal needs to be lauded for choosing a novel story and narrating it with flourish. Filmed at actual locations, the debutant director not only captures the atmosphere well, but also keeps the realism alive all through those two hours. In fact, one of the strengths of the film is its unconventional story/screenplay [Amitabh Varma] and even though the viewer becomes a participant after a while, you just can't guess what will happen next or how the film will culminate eventually. In fact, the open ending sets you thinking and most importantly, also seems appropriate.
The first-time director has handled a number of sequences with elan. The entire episode of the groom being kidnapped, tortured physically and mentally and his subsequent marriage gives you gooseflesh. Even the finale, when the daughter reacts sharply, is brilliant.
Sushil Rajpal makes a solid impact as a storyteller. However, the story stagnates in the second hour, but gathers momentum quickly thereafter when the guy consummates the marriage in an inebriated state. The twist and turns in the final reels also keep you thoroughly engrossed.
ANTARDWAND has fine performances by one and all. Raj Singh Chaudhary is natural. Swati Sen is first-rate. Akhilendra Mishra is dynamic. Vinay Pathak is calm and restrained. Himanshi [as Sia] is okay. Jaya Bhattacharya stands out. The actress enacting the role of Swati Sen's mother is good.
On the whole, ANTARDWAND has a hitherto untold story to tell, which it tells most convincingly. Of course, a film like ANTARDWAND caters to a niche audience, who, I am sure, should praise the effort.