The clash between development and displacement has, most of the times, resulted in controversy. I strongly feel that if there was an issue that was crying out for a movie of its own, it's the acquisition of land in the name of development. The incident makes news, but dies a premature death most of the times. Lessons are learnt but discarded with speed. The sufferers are unheard and uncared for...
SAHI DHANDHE GALAT BANDE brings back memories of two films which address the issue of land acquisition, though, I wish to add, the stories of each of these films are different and distinct...
THE CASTLE, a 1997 Australian film, was about a family living near the airport in Melbourne. It is forced to leave its home, since the government and airport authorities have plans for the extension of the airport. How they fight to remain in their house, taking their case as far as the High Court, forms the crux of the story.
PUTTAKKANA HIGHWAY, a Kannada film, narrates the story of farmers who will have to give up their land for the construction of a highway. Puttakka, the protagonist, is also about to lose her land. But not the one to give up easily, she puts up a brave fight against the corrupt system. This film bagged the prestigious National Award in the best regional film category.
SAHI DHANDHE GALAT BANDE also tries to capture the ramifications of displacement and development on people and focuses our attention to this issue. It comes with a new grammar - written and directed by actor Parvin Dabas - who puts his distinctive contemporary signature on this present-day story. It is what I would call a socially responsible, thought-provoking and stimulating cinema that has scope for discussion and debates. The first-time film-maker succeeds in his attempt to focus on and draw our attention to the burning issue, but at the same time, it's not a 'dry film'. The first-time director ensures that the film has its share of entertaining moments that the viewer thirsts for in film after film.
SAHI DHANDHE GALAT BANDE is about a gang of four friends Rajbir [Parvin Dabas], Sexy [Vansh Bhardwaj], Ambani [Ashish Nayyar] and Doctor [Kuldeep Ruhil], who are given a job which will give them enough money to make all their dreams come true, but to achieve the same they will have to go against their conscience and the village to which they belong. Goading them on to make this job successful is their boss, Fauji [Sharat Saxena], who stands to gain the most from the job's success and realize his dreams of becoming a politician.
On the road to completing this mission, they come across a multitude of crazy characters which includes a guru and his wrestlers, a Chief Minister [Kiron Joneja Sippy], a scheming businessman [Anupam Kher], the leader of the villagers [Yashpal Sharma], an angry aunt [Neena Kulkarni], a college-going athlete [Udit Khurana] and a photographer girlfriend [Tena Desae].
SAHI DHANDHE GALAT BANDE highlights the plight of land owners who are told to sacrifice their land in the name of development. The movie not only highlights the issue, but also brings to light the nexus between politicians and industrialists. The story depicts the frantic efforts of land owners on one hand and the exploitation and manipulation by industrialists on the other, who use their clout and finances to acquire the land.
Like PEEPLI [LIVE], which drew our attention to farmers' suicide and the consequent media and political response, Parvin Dabas chooses to highlight the plight of farmers/land owners who are facing the consequences of dislodgment and expansion. The only thing that I don't agree to is the conclusion to the story. The fight for right gets mellowed by a rather filmy and formulaic conclusion, when the minister's son joins the protest. Are issues resolved so easily? A film depicting a reality should've had a more persuasive conclusion.
On the face of it, one may draw parallels with KHOSLA KA GHOSLA, which, incidentally, starred Anupam Kher, Kiron Joneja Sippy and Parvin Dabas. Also, like KHOSLA KA GHOSLA, this one's set in North India. But the fact is Parvin Dabas, the director, has his individualistic style of narrating a story. As for the soundtrack, the songs are smartly integrated in the narrative, while the locations add a lot of authenticity to the subject.
Performances by the lead actors carry the film farther. The four pals, enacted by Parvin Dabas, Vansh Bhardwaj, Ashish Nayyar and Kuldeep Ruhil, are perfect for their parts. In fact, Parvin avoids being the character in focus despite being the man behind the project. Kiron Joneja Sippy is first-rate, Anupam Kher gets minimal scope, Sharat Saxena is wonderful, Yashpal Sharma is efficient, Neena Kulkarni excels, Vipin Sharma is good, while Udit Khurana is perfect and Tena Desae adequate.
On the whole, SAHI DHANDHE GALAT BANDE is what I would call a topical, socially responsible, thought-provoking cinema. A film that has scope for discussions and debates. It addresses, quite successfully at that, an existing critical issue that the country faces -- the effect of dislodgment of people. A decent watch!