Thursday, August 16, 2007

Sarfarosh: A Great Movie

This is a movie that is subtle in some ways, and still loud in some ways. But overall, it is a great movie, one that I love watching; even if the songs with Sonali somehow seem to be out of place (although Sonali looks as great as over, but so does Aamir, looking young and debonair).
Sarfarosh was a movie released in 1999, around the time of the Kargil war, and was a pretty good depiction of the fight of the police against the mafia, gun runners and drug smugglers. The movie was anti-Pakistan, but not obviously though so in the sense of slogans or long speeches being made against the movie. The movie starred Aamir Khan as the young dynamic ACP, Ajay Singh Rathore, Sonali Bendre as the Delhi girl Seems with whom Aamir is in love, and starred Mukesh Rishi as a honest policeman and Naseeruddin Shah in the role of the chief villain, but not obviously playing the traditional role of a villain who beats up people and so on.

So what's the story ? Arms and ammunition is smuggled into India through the Rajasthan route (by using trained camels). The intention is to supply arms to internal rebels and criminals and use them for the purpose of destabilizing the country, killing people and so on. And you know who would be spear-heading this, Pakistan's ISI of course, able supported by a number of internal people, both Hindus and Muslims being equally complicit. And the person who is spear-heading this ? A famous Pakistani poet who had emigrated to Pakistan at the time of partition plays a strong role in this due to having been embittered by Partition. These weapons are used by a local tribal leader who uses these to massacre a marriage party and steal their money and jewellery.
Aamir is ACP Ajay Singh Rathore, in love with Seema (Sonali Bendre) when in college. She is seemingly aware, but does not do anything explicit to encourage him. However, his life takes a turn when his father promises to give evidence against terrorists. They kidnap his father, and in the fracas, his brother dies in an accident. The police are not helpful. His father is returned partially paralyzed.
This makes the family change their location to Bombay where his uncle has a shop. In the meantime, Sonali looks for him, seemingly making it obvious that it was not a one way love. He takes training in the police force and advances in the police officer levels, reaching an ACP level position, very honest and dedicated. At the same time, Salim (Mukesh Rishi), a Muslim policeman, leads a squad against smugglers, and finds that most of his squad is gunned down by the automatic weapons that the smugglers possess. He is taken off the case for that, and suspectingly, because he is a Muslim. He gets embittered and refuses to help Aamir when Aamir gets the case.
In a concert held for the Pakistani ghazal singer, Gulfam Hassan (Naseruddin Shah), Seema spots Ajay, and has a reunion. Since her brother has organized the concert, she also gets Ajay to meet Gulfam, somebody whose ghazals Ajay admires. Ajay also gets a chance to help Gulfam by giving him a copy of ghazals sung by Gulfam long back that were lost. On the police side, when Ajay is looking for a dance girl with connections to the crooks, he gets Salim's help and welcomes him to the team. They do a raid where Ajay gets injured, but the police force manages to recover a large number of weapons. From some information gathered from this raid, they manage to get information about Mirchi Seth and the small town of Bahid on the Rajasthan border where the smuggling happens.
The rest of the movie is about finding the crooks, and about being able to get enough evidence about Gulfam Hassan in order to convict him. When Gulfam Hassan is led into a set of circumstances where he is forced to kill a Pakistani ISI major, he commits suicide.
Overall, this is a great movie. The direction by debut director John Matthew Mathan is fast and slick, and the movie does not slack. Performances by the cast are fairly good, and the level of patriotism comes through without long speeches.


Jo Haal dil Ka

Hosh Waalon Ko Khabar Kya

Zindagi Maut Na Ban Jaye (Video not from the movie)

1 comment:

carla said...

I really enjoyed this movie, though it was a bit too violent for me. I think the most interesting parts were the subtexts about the meaning of national identity, in the stories of Salim (very patriotically Indian yet suspect because he is Muslim) and Gulfam (no longer Indian, yet not entirely Pakistani either).