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Review: Road to Sangam is intelligent, genuine and absorbing

Review: Road to Sangam is intelligent, genuine and absorbing

Source: Sify

By: Sonia Chopra

Critic's Rating: 17/5

Saturday 30 January 2010

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Movie Title

Road to Sangam

Director

Amit Rai

Star Cast

Paresh Rawal, Om Puri, Pawan Malhotra

When a film truly believes in its message, it?s that much more effective. Road to Sangam begins on a nondescript note, making you fear its one of those festival films, that are more hype than substance. This film?s hardly-there promos too describe it to be a hit at film fests, not revealing a thing about the film?s subject.

So despite the slow start, the film picks up involving you completely. You?re drawn into the life of Hasmat Bhai (Paresh Rawal), general secretary to the local Mosque Committee in Allahabad (UP seems to be the flavour of the week at the movies). He?s a mechanical engineer, also called a `mistry? in Hindi, as he informs someone. Passionate about his work, Hasmat is thrilled to receive an old Ford car engine to be repaired. The machine has been sent by the government; the city museum to be precise. The work is near impossible given the state of the machine, but Hasmat is all the more thrilled for it. The deadline too is demanding, and he gears up his small team to get cracking.

Around that time, bomb blasts rock the city, causing the police to pick up random suspects. That these suspects are all Muslim and many with no criminal background rattles the community. The mosque committee holds a protest, leading to the death of a young member. Om Puri who plays the head honcho of this outfit speaks sternly, egged on by his maulvi assistant (Pawan Malhotra, fabulous). They decide that all Muslims in the area shut shop until they hear an apology from the government. Members who fear for their livelihood, didn?t dare protest.

Halfway done repairing the Ford engine, Hasmat is in two minds whether to pursue or give the work up. While he wants to side with the committee, his professionalism won?t let him break the commitment so easily. Just then, a TV reporter informs him of the stature of the car engine. This was the very same motor that had carried Gandhi?s ashes right after his death in 1948. If repaired, this engine would make the same trip that it had made with the Mahatma?s ashes to the Sangam River where Yamuna and Ganga meet. Now, on discovering that the government had forgotten about this last container of his ashes, this yatra to the Sangam has been organised. Alarmed and honoured, Hasmat?s dilemma deepens.

Still wanting to offer support to his community, Hasmat goes to the museum to inform that he won?t be doing the work. But when he visits Gandhi?s gallery in the museum and then sees the car being painted and readied for the big day, he?s moved beyond words. That day he decides he won?t lose the opportunity of paying respects to the man who gave up his life for the country. The film then explores Hasmat?s struggle to follow his chosen path; a decision that proves to be harder than he imagined.

Debut writer-director Amit Rai?s storytelling is delightful for its honesty; especially in his moulding of characters. Hasmat?s character is strong and yet sensitive. The twinkle in his eye when he sets to work on the machine, or his pain at being betrayed by his lifelong friends is so genuine, you can?t help being moved. This performance is easily Paresh Rawal?s most heartfelt and honest (compared to the silly roles like the politician in Rann). Hasmat says such path-breaking ideas with a dimpled smile (he argues the intention of dividing the nation into two, among others), you understand why his most severe opponents will still listen to him. Hasmat delivers long monologues, but you never once find them dreary; on the other hand you are fascinated by his take on Gandhi and being loyal to the country.

The film?s patriotism seeps in slowly, stirring up your emotions and infecting you with its enthusiasm. Road to Sangam is one of the most intelligent, genuine and absorbing patriotic films to have come out in a long time. Why miss it then?

Verdict: Three and a half stars

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