Written by Manisha Lakhe
It’s Moody, Broody and Bloody.
And You Cannot Take Your Eyes Off The Screen.
How thin is the veneer of civilization? How easily can a debt snap family ties? How deeply can a man hate his sibling? How many daughters will be buried alive? How much money is enough? Gurgaon may be a suburb of the National Capital, but it has its own set of rules. And this film pushes us into a dark cruel world. When you emerge, shocked by the violence, you realise that you are equally primitive when you want to clap after the last gun is fired.
Gurgaon stands for endless shining high rises, large fancy malls and flashy powerful SUVs roaring down unmarked, untarred roads. This suburb in the country’s capital was built by land sharks and bribes and shady deals with the government. But people would rather step into their fancy cars loaded with shopping bags than look at lawless frontier loaded with guns right across the street.
The director forces you to visit this underbelly of the suburb. There is no ‘La Vie En Rose’ here. There is blood and bribes and cruelty inside the fancy bungalows with tinted windows. Guns and patriarchy live here. And money that reeks of death.
Every visual in the film stays true to this promise. Take the flashback where Kehri Singh the farmer turns to violence in order to become Kehri Singh the builder. Beautiful innocent mustard fields become witness to fratricide. You watch in awe as his determination cannot be tripped by the cry of a baby. The film has been shot so beautifully that the tension which begins with daughter taking mirchi pakodas to her father as soon as she arrives from abroad stays until the moment where her mother is brooding over her death. The editing keeps you at the edge of the seat. And you realise that you too have taken sides with characters without being told who is right and who is wrong. The director’s invisible hand is guiding you to look at things you never thought you’d see on screen.
How much can one hate one’s better educated, smarter sibling who is clearly a favorite of the parents? If you said yes, then you will understand the simmering jealousy Nikki Singh (Akshay Oberoi) experiences when he sees how his drunk dad Kehri Singh (played brilliantly by Pankaj Tripathi) favors his sister Preet over him. Daddy-o crumples the plans of Nikki’s Powerhouse Gym leaflet and wipes his fingers and throws it on his dinner plate like a used tissue with complete disregard. Pankaj Tripathi say very little, and it is a pity that he’s shown rather drunk in most of the film, but his actions are nothing like a drunk person. His instincts are right. He brings in his estranged brother Hooda (Aamir Bashir in a surprise casting, well done!), who will come home to fix the crisis only on the behest of his wife (Shalini Vatsa). What crisis?
The vultures flying over dumped garbage may have an answer. Or men who will do anything for money. Or things that will go wrong.
Some will say there’s too much of the Haryanvi dialect of Hindi being spoken in the film. There is that, but the raw language gnaws at you from the inside forcing you to look at the dark side of men. This film will not let you look away from the screen. You may not want to know people like those shown in the movie, but when you step out into the mall attached to the multiplex after the film, you might not want to go shopping. The film is that powerful.
(This review appears on nowrunning dot com)