'Gour Hari Dastaan' review: Gloomy portrayal of an inspiring story
Gour Hari Dastaan
By: Sonia Chopra
Friday 14 August 2015
Gour Hari Dastaan
Vinay Pathak, Konkona Sen Sharma, Ranvir Shorey
The film, based on real events, tells us the touching tale of freedom fighter Gour HariDas, and his struggle to get an official acknowledgement of his participation in thefreedom struggle. The story is a moving one; sadly the film is not as effective.
It doesn't say much about a film when the most moving part appears in the end, as wemeet the real Gour Hari Das, and feel a sense of pride for the fit 80-year-old taking awalk in the neighbourhood park.
The film has Vinay Pathak playing the ex-freedom fighter, who is patiently doing therounds of government offices to procure a document. The Tamrapatra, as in a freedomfighter certificate, is crucial for Das. Without it, everyone thinks he's an imposter,including his own son.
Doing the rounds of government offices is tough as Das realizes - he climbs thewinding stairs, meets with inefficient and uncaring staff, and wrestles with a system thatis content in its corrupt ways.
One only imagine the disappointment of a freedom fighter seeing the country in thisstate. 'Is this what we fought for'? Das often wonders. And there is hurt in his eyes,when people casually remark that India was better off under the British rule.
Ironically, so fed up is he with his daily struggle of meeting inept officials for a simpledocument, that even he remarks that things were perhaps better with the British,because at least you knew who the enemy was. This bitterness that creeps into him ismost unfortunate.
And one of the most touching scenes in the film has Das witnessing a Mahatma Gandhihoarding being casually carried across the street - the same Mahatma who had kepthis hand on Das's head in his teenage years.
The film has a few such touching scenes, including the obvious symbolism of the Indianflag for sale on the roadside, but they are few and far between.
With such an inspiring story to fall back on, one wonders how the film went so wrong.
Director Ananth Mahadevan's portrayal of Das in the film is one-dimensional anddreary. We see him at government offices, being insulted at the housing societymeeting, being talked down by the son with the same expression- a sense ofresignation and hopelessness. Surely, even freedom-fighters have interesting, dynamiclayers within their being, and do not go through life carrying the same expression ordemeanor?
This single-layered representation of Das's character is the first blow to the film. And thesecond one is the curious character of a journalist (Ranvir Shorey), who defies hiseditor, to propagate Das's story.
When not busy pursuing Das's story for the paper, this journalist is busy whining againstfeminists ("they should be shot dead"). When in a better mood, he utters juvenile thingslike "There should be a tax levied on women, for being such a pain". It's truly amazinghow (and why) these words have found their way into a film, about a freedom fighter'sstruggle.
After being kicked out by his wife, the said journo finds love in a colleague (TannisthaChatterjee) who doesn't do much except following Shorey around and discussing hisangst and his work.
The dour performances don't help either. Neither does the thick, gloomy air of the film. While the story is electrifying and inspiring, the film doesn't manage to do justice. Toobad, really.
Rating: 2.5 stars