Saturday, May 03, 2014

Review: Kya Dilli Kya Lahore

They Met As Enemies, They Parted As Friends

Let me admit at the outset. This is not a movie I would have normally watched. Surfing the channels the other day I came across the trailer of the movie. As the name suggests, I instantly knew it would be a movie on the India-Pakistan partition. But what really got my attention was when the trailer said 'Gulzar presents'. Surely, I thought to myself, this must be a different kind of movie for Gulzar to have been associated with it.

Well, I am glad I didn't skip the movie. Sure, it is a movie about the India-Pakistan partition but narrated in a very different & hard-hitting way. The movie has only four characters and is centred, almost entirely, around only two - Vijay Raaz (Rehmat Ali - a Pakistani soldier of Indian origin) and Manu Rishi (Samarth Pratap Shastri - an Indian soldier of Pakistani origin). The movie looks at the Partition from the eyes of these two soldiers - people who have reluctantly shifted their nations but are not entirely happy about it; people who reminisce about their time back home even in front of an enemy soldier; people who question the very idea of Partition.

Their conversations with each other reveal some interesting facets: Essentially, politicians take decisions and the soldiers need to execute these on the ground. The politicians take these decisions based on their hunger for power ('Siyasat ka khel hain saara'). Most times, as in the case of Partition, it may not be a right or humane decision. It seems as if in the greed for power, people forget that there are human beings posted at the borders. The human cost is sadly sacrificed at the altar of politics.

The film is quite topical considering even after 67 years, we are still not able to reconcile with Pakistan and our soldiers die almost daily on the borders. Such loss of life in times of peace is quite cruel. It's easy to empathize with both the soldiers in the movie when they exchange notes on their family and their childhood. Vijay Raaz grows almost misty-eyed describing his home in Chandni Chowk; Manu Rishi becomes nostalgic talking about his Lahore residence.

To say that Vijay Raaz & Manu Rishi have acted brilliantly would be doing injustice to both of them - because they are known to be such wonderful actors. Also, this is Vijay Raaz's directorial debut. Both carry off the film quite well with equal parts light-heartedness & seriousness.

It is a slow film yes and may appear a little bit long to some. But it is well worth it. When we spend hours each weekend on watching mindless movies, surely we can spend ~ 100 minutes to watch this movie. The movie will make you think about the uselessness of war & conflict; it will make you realize the insanity of asking people to change their nations overnight leaving almost everything behind; it will bring home the point that even lonely enemy soldiers need a friendly soul to talk to at the borders.

Go watch the movie. And come back home and say a silent prayer for the thousands of soldiers bravely guarding our borders. They lie awake so that we may sleep peacefully. In some small way, I believe this movie is a dedication to all of them.

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