Film: "Hamne Gandhi Ko Maar Diya"
Director: Naeem A. Siddique;
Cast: Jatin Goswami, Pratima Kanan, Sameeksha Bhatnagar, Subrat Dutta, Shabih Jafri, Utkarshika Yadav, Azad Mishra, Manoj Verma, Amlesh Jaiswal and Rakesh Dubey.
"Hamne Gandhi Ko Maar Diya" is a technically well-mounted period drama. The story is simple and layered. If you are expecting a political drama leading to the confession of the assassin who killed Mahatma Gandhi - the Father of the Nation, you would be disappointed.
To commemorate Mahatma Gandhi's 150th birth anniversary, director Naeem A. Siddique, who claims to be a Gandhian, instead gives us in minute details, a lengthy preach-fest that delves into the murder of the Gandhian philosophy.
Narrated in a non-linear manner, the tale begins in Calcutta (now Kolkata), sometime in January 1948, giving us an insight into the recently independent country which is awash with communal violence that is destroying the social fabric of the society.
Kailash Singh, a victim of circumstances and with strong political views, blames Mahatma Gandhi for the sad state of affairs. After his mill is burnt by arsonists, he finds it difficult to survive in a big city like Calcutta. Hard on cash and jobless, in desperation and despite having ideological differences with his mother, he decides to return to his village Sasaram in Bihar, with his wife Sudha and child in tow.
The family embarks upon a train journey which is supposed to span over two days. In the compartment, they find themselves huddled among fellow travellers who are equally terrified of the volatile situation. Among the lot is Divakar Tripathi, a school principal, whose ideologies are diametrically opposite of Kailash. Together, they provide the yin and yang of the tale.
Egged by other co-passengers, the discussion vacillates from religion to humanity in great detail, to an extent that a few conversations, to an onlooker, would appear amusing.
Over the two day journey, oblivious of Gandhi's assassination, the passengers discuss Gandhian principles full throttle, only to have realisation dawn on them, at the end.
The writing is simple and the lingo with free usage of Hindi and Urdu vocabulary, captures the era to perfection. The tempo of the film is slow and the narrative flows at a meandering pace.
The plot seems manufactured and is astutely handled. What keeps you hooked are the interactions between the characters, which seem theatrical at times. While the actors are natural, their demeanour may seem a bit over the top. This is probably to emphasise the period.
The cast, Jatin Goswami as Kailash Singh, Subrat Dutta as Divakar, Pratima Kannan as Kailash's mother Savitri, Samiksha Bhatnagar as his wife Sudha, Shabih Jafri as his aunt Vimla Chachi and Utkarshika Yadav as his daughter Munni, are all perfunctory, they grab their chance and shine, despite lack of any memorable scenes.
Visually, the look in the film is quite consistent. Every frame is well-mounted. The virgin locales and the claustrophobic space it the train compartment are brilliantly captured by Cinematographer Shanti Bhushan Roy's lens. The few vivid scenic shots canned by the wide angle lens give this film that extra cinematic boost. These add an aura to the narrative.
The background score by Anup Bhat is light and mellifluous. To add flavour to the telling, there is a bhajan thrown in which is rendered with full gusto. This in fact seems forced and obtuse.
Overall, this film made with good intentions may not find appreciative viewers, except if it is made mandatory.