METRO PLUS

Partition revisited

Manoj Bajpai excels while Urmila Matondkar lends dignified support

Manoj Bajpai excels while Urmila Matondkar lends dignified support  

Pinjar (Hindi) Cast: Manoj Bajpai, Urmila Matondkar Director: Chandraparkash Dwivedi Music: Uttam Singh

THIS FILM based on Amrita Pritam's timeless novel brings back the whiff of the Partition, the same trauma, the same bloodshed, the same tears come rolling down. This is a lane we have visited with Govind Nihalani in Tamas, this is a lane whose varied shades have been brought to cinema by the likes of Shyam Benegal and Saeed Mirza. Yet, it hurts, it rankles and tells us once more that visiting history only brings recrimination, not redemption.

Dr Chandraparkash Dwivedi stays honest to Pritam's novel in spirit and comes up with a film beautiful in parts, anguished in narration and exuding the pain and pathos associated with the bloodshed event. Yet it leaves you with a feeling of being short-changed, probably the task of recreating Pritam's novel on the silver screen was too much, probably because others have used the subject with dashes of love to come up with money-spinners. Remember that outrageously loud Gadar which did so well commercially?

Dwivedi's film opens with a Hindu girl - Urmila - being kidnapped by a Muslim guy - Manoj Bajpai - on the eve of her marriage.

The man is no rogue, it turns out. He has done it under the pressure of his uncles who had seen their sister being similarly taken away by Hindus in the past.

It is not a comfortable journey from thereon for either the man, overcome by scruples of conscience, or the girl, now rejected by her family yet longing to be with them.

Interwoven with the plight of the couple is the plight of migrants on either side of the border. Cinematographer Santosh Thundiyil is able to recreate the ambience of the `40s so skilfully that you hardly realise it is 2003 now.

And his characters dig deep into their reservoirs to unlearn what they have mastered in their Bollywood journey. The best of them is Manoj Bajpai in his portrayal of Rasheed -- now cruel, now caring, angry, now anguished man. Urmila lends dignified support, as do Sanjay Suri and Sandali Singh.

Yet the film falls short. It is touching in parts and beautiful too but is found lacking asa cohesive whole and is impeded by narration that flip-flops often.

Watch Pinjar if you still long for the mitti of des. Watch it if you want to experience the agony all over again. Otherwise, read the Pritam novel. No addition, no fluff. Just a very human experience there.

ZIYA US SALAM

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