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Slow-paced, but brilliantly executed

Source: Sify

Critic's Rating: 18/5

Wednesday 22 October 2003

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Movie Title

Pinjar

Director

Dr Chandraprakash
Dwivedi

Star Cast

Urmila Matondkar
Manoj Bajpai
Sanjay Suri
Sandali Sinha
Priyanshu

Dr Chandraprakash Dwivedi's Pinjar is based on the famous novel of the same name by noted writer Amrita Pritam. The film deals with the period from 1946 to 1948, largely surrounded by the partition.

Puro (Urmila Matondkar) is the eldest of the three daughters in a Punjabi family based in a small village in Lahore. Her parents (played by Kulbhushan Karbanda and Lillete Dubey) are preparing for her wedding with Ramchand (Sanjay Suri) of the neighbouring village.

Also, Puro?s brother Trilok's (Priyanshu Chatterji) wedding is fixed with Ramchand's sister Lajo (Sandali Sinha). However, Rashid (played by Manoj Bajpai) has other plans. He kidnaps Puro in order to avenge a humiliation which has continued as a family feud between their Muslim family and Puro's Hindu family.

Puro pleads with him to release her, but all her requests fall into deaf ears. On the other hand, it?s chaos in Puro's family as her wedding date is fast approaching. Puro manages to escape but her family now refuses to accept her, as they fear further humiliation. Puro is shattered and has no option, but to get back to Rashid who meanwhile has fallen in love with Puro and gets married to her. Life goes on, but Puro still dreams of getting married to Ramchand.

Meanwhile, Puro?s younger sister Rajjo (Ishaa Koppikar) gets married to Ramchand while Trilok marries Lajo. He waits for her sister to return and his search is still on. The partition is almost happening and there is turmoil and devastation everywhere. Families are separated and both Hindus and Muslims kidnap young girls. In one such incident, Trilok's wife is kidnapped by the Muslims. Puro comes to know of this. Puro, with the help of Rashid, saves her from them. How the families reunite and what happens hereafter forms the crux of the story.

The first two reels of this 3.40-hour saga are wasted on establishing the characters and creating the basic aura of that period. Nothing much happens till Bajpai kidnaps Urmila. But nonetheless, the aura, the costumes, the sets leave a lasting impression on the audience. The sequences after that not only are shocking, but also give you the much-desired feel of that period. The authenticity is mind-blowing. Some sequences in the first half leave a lasting impression and will stay in memory, especially those like when Urmila manages to return home but is sent back, the marriage sequence and the scenes involving Priyanshu. Apart from that, the lethargic pace could get on to your nerves. The songs are very well composed, but the use of too many Punjabi words hampers their prospects.

On the other hand, the second half is more dramatic and emotional. The best part about the whole film is that Chandraprakash Dwivedi has handled the scenes of partition with utmost care and a conscious effort is being made to avoid violence.

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The scenes are more heartwarming than brutal. Though there are a couple of choking scenes like the killing of a small kid and the kidnapping of Sandali Sinha.

The climax is extremely touching. Another major relief for the viewers is that in spite of many films on the same era, there are no clich?s. Two major flaws of the film are its length, and the songs that are too many. The film needs to be reduced at least by 30 minutes, or else it will be difficult for the cinegoers. As mentioned earlier, the kidnap scenes and also the mob scenes in the latter portions are expertly executed. The credit also goes to the art director Muneesh Sappel and choreographers, who have recreated the bygone era without diversifying into various sub-plots, like most script writers do. Cinematography is another advantage and captures the mood of the 1940s and 50s to perfection. The background score is effective.

Full marks should be given to Dr. Chandraprakash Dwivedi who has been successful in making a film on one of the most disturbing tragedy of India, and narrating it in the most effective manner it can. His hold over the story and the way he has exploited the cast and credits are praiseworthy.

The film belongs to one man - Manoj Bajpai - who virtually steals the show in spite of the story being told from the point of view of Urmila. The actor takes to the character like a fish to water and emerges triumphant. Urmila is equally brilliant; she proves yet again why she is considered as one of the most talented actresses around. In spite of having a de-glamourised role, she slips into the character with amazing ease, proving that she's a reservoir of talent.

Sanjay Suri looks sincere and makes a major impact. Priyanshu comes up with a noteworthy performance and leaves his mark. Sandali Sinha is impressive and looks like her character. Ishaa Koppikar has nothing much to do. Seema Biswas does her part well. Alok Nath, Kulbhushan Karbanda, Lillete Dubey, Rohitasva Gaur, Farida Jalal, Dina Pathak and the rest of the cast fit the bill.

Overall, the film is brilliantly executed and handled with utmost sensitivity but its length is one factor, which might affect its prospects in the long run. Business in Punjab, UP and Bombay will be the best for sure.

Kunal Shah
India Syndicate