Director: Omung Kumar
Cast: Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Randeep Hooda, Richa Chadha, Darshan Kumar
A lot has been written about the real life story of Sarabjit Singh, a farmer from Bhikhiwind, Punjab, who was tortured to death in a jail in Pakistan. While there was a theory that he was spy working for the Indian government, one cannot ignore the pain and trauma of what his family went through. Sarbjit's sister, Dalbir Kaur, tirelessly ran from pillar to post for many years to free her brother and was often a topic of debate at the Parliament. What Dalbir went through, how Sarbjit's life was made a living hell because of a mistaken identity, the movie explores everything in the run time of approximately 2 hour and 11 minutes.
Omung Kumar’s Sarbjit which narrates the struggle of Dalbir Kaur (Sarabjit’s sister) to free his brother from the Pakistan prison has been extensively researched. The director has captured every little essence of the family's life and has paid attention to minute details like their cultural background, village life in Punjab and wardrobe. This is one subject which has got a fair window to display the sufferings of a family post the arrest of Sarabjit at the border. And Omung Kumar manage to handle this sensitive subject with a clear intention of also keeping the audience entertained.
Omung Kumar doesn’t waste any time exploring the unnecessary. He sticks to the brief and within the first 5 minutes, prepares a strong foundation for the film. He does go back and forth about what Sarabjit went through in the various stages of his life but that is only part of an intriguing screenplay by Utkarshini Vashishtha and Rajesh Beri.
Sarabjit, played by Randeep Hooda, strays into Pakistan in a drunken stupor and is convicted for the Lahore and Faislabad bomb attacks of 1990. Having that established, the director starts turning the pages of each member of the family and dwells into their past.
Production designer Vanita Kumar has done a commendable job by recreating Sarabjit's quaint little cottage in Punjab. The dirty walls of a house are a reflection of all the sorrows and grief in someone’s life which has been very subtly injected in the screenplay.
So why did the film start losing its steam? The whole melodramatic approach to the film doesn’t really make you sympathize with the characters for too long. The background music is too patchy and loud and inconsistent screenplay is a let down for all the actors who have given top notch performances in every scene. Despite the attempt to keep the pace of the film fast, at many times, the scenes look like quick fixes and hurried up. The poor editing of the film also didn’t really help either.
Neerja or Omung’s first biopic Mary Kom set the bar high for biopic genre by demonstrating that when all departments of filmmaking excel, the end product is always flawless.
Coming to performances, let’s begin with Randeep who plays the title role. He pulls off two life spans of Sarabjit with so much ease. A happy family man to an alleged spy who was tortured in a prison in Pakistan for so many years, Randeep ensures you have your eyes on him. This stellar performance may earn him loads of accolades and respect as an actor. It is difficult to fathom the torture Sarabjit had to go through in Pakistan prison and Randeep's take on it is spot on.
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan displays her emotions with lot of intensity. She convincingly portrays Dalbir's ordeal through her role. As her character grows older, it is remarkable to observe how she has changed her body language and her mannerisms. Scenes between Aishwarya and Randeep in the Pakistan prison will leave you teary eyed.
Richa Chaddha (Sarabjit’s wife), has a grief struck face which works well for the roll. The way she underplays her character with the right moderation indicates she has excelled in her craft. Darshan Kumar (Sarabjit’s lawyer) makes an appearance towards the end of the film but manages to get all the attention towards himself with his Urdu dialect and the on-screen energy.
Overall, the film takes you on an emotional ride and makes you question a lot about the political crisis between two countries. It is up to the audience to judge whether Sarabjit was an Indian spy or an innocent farmer. However, his journey is something that must be experienced in the theaters.
Watch: The trailer of Sarbjit