The Film: Pinjar
Starring: Urmila Matondkar, Manoj Bajpai
Director: Dr. Chandraprakash Dwivedi
Period films seem to be the latest craze to have hit Bollywood. At last count, there were half a dozen filmmakers interested in the genre, including some of the topmost names in Hindi filmmakers.
Based on the novel by Amrita Pritam, Pinjar is the story of a Punjabi girl Puro (Urmila Matondkar in yet another performance intensive role after "Bhoot") who gets to suffer atrocities owing to an old family feud. As in any such situation, the women are the main sufferers and face the brutality of rape and kidnapping to settle scores.
The perpetrator of the crime on Urmila is Rashid (Manoj Bajpai giving a commendable performance), who finds the need to redeem himself after he commits it.
Ramchand (Sanjay Suri does not seem to get out of the rut of a goody two shoes character who walks away with the sympathy of the female audience) who is engaged to be married to Urmila is completely heartbroken.
When Urmila manages to escape from the clutches of Manoj to reach her home, she is ostracized by her family. On the path of giving up her life, she is rescued by Manoj, and taken back to his home. But what remains of Urmila's life is a Pinjar (skeleton). She wastes away in her depression.
Meanwhile, Urmila's sister Rajjo (Ishaa Koppikar hardly recognizable in a deviation from her usual glamorous roles) is offered in marriage to Sanjay Suri, who refuses (which is a deviation from the novel). She ends up getting married to his cousin and her brother Trilok (Priyanshu Chatterjee whom one might remember from "Tum Bin") marries Sanjay Suri's sister Lajo (Sandali Sinha, again from "Tum Bin").
When Urmila seems to be settling down happily in her life, partition is announced, and all hell breaks lose. People are uprooted from their homes, thousands killed, and females are again at the receiving end of the atrocities.
The rest of the movie is about how family equations change and everyone is faced with difficult life-altering decisions.
The redemption track of Manoj takes precedence in the latter half of the movie.
The film clearly belongs to Urmila. It is a story told from her point of view, and as the main protagonist, she does not disappoint except in a few scenes pre-climax.
Manoj Bajpai is as usual excellent. He is a method actor through and through, and his preparation and dedication to the role shows through in each and every scene. Sanjay Suri is average, but the surprise package is Priyanshu. He delivers a brilliant understated performance. Sandali Sinha, Ishaa Koppikar, Alok Nath, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Lilette Dubey and Farida Jalal offer able support to the goings on.
Debutant film director Dr. Chandraprakash Dwivedi comes highly recommended due to his credentials as the director and maker of such highly acclaimed mythologicals as "Chanakya" and "Mrityunjay". He has been known as a director who never compromises on depicting the authenticity of a period. His hard work shows through in each frame and he has been able to extract fine performances from the cast. But unfortunately, the movie is not as engrossing as it could have been.
Muneesh Sappel deserves special mention for the elaborate sets.
One of the sore points of this movie is the surplus of songs in the first half to show celebrations. It slows down the pace of the movie, and one loses interest quite a number of times. The songs penned by Gulzar are good, but to maintain authenticity, they are set to the music of a bygone era by Uttam Singh, which proves to be their undoing.
Editor Ballu Saluja has disappointed as the length of the movie (3 hours plus) takes away its charm.
1. For the first time, Twentieth Century Fox has acquired the All-India distribution rights for a Hindi movie with Pinjar.
2. The music for this film was released on the Indo-Pak Wagah border.
3. When she was promoting Pinjar at the Wagah border, a pub owner offered her around 9 lakh rupees for making an appearance in his pub, which she promptly refused.
Let's see. One pro for the movie is its objective story telling without taking any side. The second is its handling, not letting it slip into a wholly commercial drama, or an art one.
The cons include its length, which needs to be cut by at least 20-25 minutes by cutting a few songs as well as pre-climax sequences. My vote for a period film set during the Indo-Pak partition still goes to "Hey Ram".