Omung Kumar’s film Sarbjit is a heartrending portrayal of the tragedy of an innocent family centric farmer living at the Indo-Pak border and how he gets sucked into a legacy of hatred for no fault of his own.
Randeep Hooda plays the character of Sarbjit Singh who is a farmer who’s a doting brother, husband and father who is humiliated in the most despicable ways in jails in Pakistan for allegedly being Ranjit Singh, the mastermind behind the ghastly Lahore blasts. His stoic sister Dalbir Kaur (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan) makes herculean efforts to attain freedom for her brother. Sarbjit’s wife Sukhpreet (Richa Chadha) raises two daughters Poonam (Ankita Shrivastava) and Swapan (Shivani Saini) with a patient resolve. Dalbir tries out every conceivable option including meeting the Prime Minister of India while Sarbjit desperately collects whatever vestiges of family that he could through stray letters. A Pakistani lawyer Awais Shaikh (Darshan Kumaar) takes over Sarbjit’s case and battles out fanatic forces to try and attain a semblance of justice for Sarbjit and his beleaguered family.
The film’s dialogues are power packed and the fact that Punjabi is frequently spoken is never a hindrance in communication for the Hindi speaking audience. Omung Kumar is obviously passionately involved with the cause of prisoners on both sides of the border and at the end makes an impassioned appeal that politics shouldn’t be played when innocent lives are involved. He doesn’t hold anything back and tells the story the way it ought to have been told. The torture sequences and Sarbjit’s state in the jail can be disturbing to watch but Kumar couldn’t have sugar coated the reality and he ensures that the audience will watch the hard facts so that hopefully the gruesome atrocities will never be repeated on either sides of the border.
This is by far the one of the best performance of Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. She imbibes the ageing facet beautifully and extremely gracefully. She has delivered a flawless performance but two scenes where she towers are the first when she loses her child at birth. The vacuousness in her eyes and the shocked body state sends shivers down your spine. Towards the end, Dalbir takes centre stage when her brother is critically injured and she challenges the fanatic forces in Pakistan in an impassioned manner. It is a powerful moment. There are scenes where Dalbir’s efforts are questioned by close family members making her character even more Real and believable.
Randeep Hooda’s acting and dialogue delivery is outstanding. The gradual ageing process exacerbated by terrible torture borne by a battered body has been portrayed brilliantly by Hooda. He doesn’t hesitate in showing the ugly reality or the constant oscillation between sanity and losing his mind. He’s a giant of an actor who deserves far more respect and recognition than what he has already achieved. Richa Chadha never tries to compete with Aishwarya or Randeep but her silence speaks volumes. She makes a solid impact. Darshan Kumaar is effective as the liberal Pakistani lawyer. Ankita Shrivastava as the younger daughter Poonam shows sparks in a scene when she decides to burn all memories of her father.
Only short versions of the actual songs are used in the film (which does a world of good to the flow of the narrative) at most places. The haunting theme music composed by Shail-Pritesh keeps you interested in the plot of the film at all times. Dard (composed by Jeet Ganguly and superbly sung by Sonu Nigam) is the pick of the lot. Tunglak (composed by Shail-Pritesh and joyously sung by Sukhwinder Singh, Sunidhi Chauhan, Shail Haada and Kalpana Gandharva) celebrates the carefree bindaas spirit of Sarbjit. Allah Hu (composed by Tanishk Bagchi) and Meherbaan (composed by Shail-Pritesh) take you on a Sufi trip while Salaamat (composed by Amal Malik and craftily sung by Arijit Singh) stays with you long after the movie is over.
All in all, SARBJIT is a landmark film with great performances and a superbly told narrative. The entertainment quotient is missing which is compensated by the phenomenal manner in which the story is told. At the box office, it will be appreciated by masses.
Sarbjit Public Review Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Randeep Hooda