Director- Navdeep singh
Writers- Navdeep singh, Deepak Venkateshan
Cast- saif Ali Khan, Deepak dobriyal, Zoya hussain, Manav Vij, Neeraj Kabi, aamir Bashir, Simone Singh, Sonakshi sinha
In a nutshell:
This revenge drama in a period setting is dark, doomy, violent and niche cinema that dares to be different.
Clearly meant for niche audience, writer director Navdeep Singh, tells a story that moves at a pace of its own, in a style of its own. Its set in pre-independence India post battle of Buxar.
The film opens with gloom and death at a certain time in past and then introduces us to a different time setting where a naga sadhu , a Gosain(Saif) is seen on a hunt for a man named Rahmat Khan( Manav Vij).
There’s mystery and menace around Gosain. He’s ruthless & remorseless when it comes to killing.He has been on this trail for years and this is his sole motive of life, sole means to attain moksha.
Set in arid lands of Bundelkhand, the film takes us on his journey of hunt at a meandering pace. Somewhere there’s a man who’s good at following trails through his enhanced olfactory senses( Deepak Dobrial). Somewhere there’s a widow who wants to help Gosain find his prey (Zoya Hussain) .
Somewhere else Rehmat Khan is trying to escape with a booty that was supposed to be for Marathas.
And Rehmat and his wife( Simone Singh) are mooning over their infant son who has a doomed prophecy .
As the story moves along, all these characters keep joining the plot. But there’s a constant mystery to each of them which unfolds later. At no point the director wants you to know the complete relevance of his characters. Thats a part of mysterious narrative style. Is Gosain a mortal ? Do those who he meets help him? What were Rehmat’s sins that are constantly chasing him?
Shankar Rehman’s cinematography helps in creating an ominous feel. Navdeep Singh keeps the atmospherics harsh and heartless. Violence is plenty and savage at times. He hasn’t and am sure didn’t mean to create a soft film. The costumes , the sets , the dialects are in sync with the period depicted.
Saif has put his heart and soul to his portrayal as the barbaric unkempt naga sadhu. He is intense and impressive.
Zoya is good in her small but important role. It would be a pleasure to see her in meatier role.
Deepak Dobrial gives a fine performance in his small role.
Manav Vij has a very intense, quiet and grey character. He played well.
Sonakshi has a small and interesting cameo.
Music by Samira Kopikkar is rustic and blends well with the narrative.
The film is tad lengthy with a run time of 2 hrs 35 min which could have been shorter.
Since the film clearly has an experimental narrative and style, I would say that its clearly not meant for mass audience. I would classify it as cinema that’s not meant for entertainment but to be relished in the way as designed by the film maker. Those who have penchant for experimental cinema and enjoy something that’s different, would like it.
If period setting , grim frames , mystery, good performances and cinema with a difference appeal to you , then don’t miss this one. We do want film makers to keep coming up with films like Tumbadd and Laal Kaptaan even though they are for niche audience.
Score 7 on 10