Writer-Abhishek Chaubey, Sudip Sharma
Cast-Sushant Singh Rajput,Bhumi Pednekar, Manoj Bajpayee, Ranvir Shorey,Asutosh Rana
This gritty and intriguing Bandit saga is an intense and deep peep into the lives of dacoits who are at loggerheads with their own inner self about sins and redemptions.
The plot is based in bandit inflicted Bundelkhand region around 1975 which on one hand was reeling under dacoit gangs and their jungle rule and on the other hand, deep rooted patriarchy and casteism.
The story is directed and co written by Abhishek Chaubey who has given us likes of Ishqiya, Death in the Gunj, Udta Punjab & many more. Together with writer Sudip Sharma , they sketch out a very grim , gritty and un glorified image of the aftermath of the unlawful life of these dacoits. The characters and their emotions are well etched and superbly portrayed.
Their muddy and grimy life in those barren ravines, their constant chase in life and death game, their dilemmas about their own set of ethics and rules, their craving for some normalcy in life, getting rid of the constant guilt , their superstitions, their attempts at redemption, their fatigue and sorrow… all of this has been presented by a great cast and shot in real life locations in good cinematography by Anuj Rakesh Dhawan.
Qualitatively, the movie falls in the line with two best dacoit sagas we have seen till date , Phoolan Devi and Paan Singh Tomar. This one must have been all the more challenging for the writers for unlike the other two , they are not life stories. To make something so engaging around a small plot is a feat.
Maan Singh’s ( Manoj Bajpayee)Thakur gang is on the run from STF headed by Virender Singh Gujjar( Ashutosh Rana).
Lakhan (Sushant Singh) and Wakil( Ranvir Shorey) are his close aides. While on the run, they lives get entwined with Indumati( Bhumi) who is on the run along with a little girl who has been raped and brutalised.
While this gang faces danger from STF , rival gangs and double crossing informers, they also have people trailing Indu who are baying for her life.
The story goes on to tell us their fate while giving us a peep into their traumas, soul searching and conflicts of views.
We also get a disturbing account of casteist mindsets and pathetic state of women in the ruthless patriarchic set up. It also points out that being good or bad cannot be defined by profession.
Some good hard hitting dialogues give us a razor sharp view of mindsets. A female bandit based on Phoolan Devi says that all this caste system is only for the men for the women lie further lowest in the hierarchy.
A Thakur policeman reproachful about reporting to a Gujjar senior is comforted by his uncle saying that the stars on the “chamdi” ( meaning body ) are more important than the stars on the uniform.
While initially the bandits were on the run to save themselves, eventually all they wanted was to save the little girl’s life and actually their souls.
Manoj Bajpayee gives a stellar performance in a short role. Bhumi was amazing in a superbly realistic, drab looking character. Sushant and Ranveer give equally appreciable measured performances . Ashutosh Rana is as much worth a praise .
Music by Vishal Bhardwaj and Rekha Bhardwaj’s voice was in perfect sync with the gritty feel of the film.
The film definitely deserved better promotions and wider screenings and shows.
Watch this relentless game of death in the form of superb artful cinema. Thumbs up to writing, direction and performances that come together to give us a riveting watch .
Score 8 on 10