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14 - year - old Sikandar Raza has been living with his uncle and aunt in Kashmir, ever since his parents were killed by militants 10 years ago. The young boy, who dreams of a better life for his family by realizing his football talent, is a bit of a loner at school and an easy target for the school bullies. One day on his way home from a school football match, Sikandar finds a gun lying on the path. Despite being warned against it by his new friend Nasreen, Sikandar picks up the gun believing it to be the answer to his problems. When playing with the gun alone in the woods, Sikandar meets a young man who teaches him how to be a great shot, but the young man is not who he seems and Sikandar innocently becomes caught up in political warfare. Although the quiet Nasreen acts as Sikandar's conscience, Sikandar gets further embroiled in situations beyond his control, and innocent people get killed. As the story unfolds we see that Sikandar is an innocent victim in a game being played out ... Written by
An above average attempt to make an Indian Majidi movie
At times watching a movie without knowing much about it, serves as a merit. And a project not supported by any great hype can easily surprise the viewer with its novel twists and turns. That's exactly the case with "Sikandar" which manages to impress you with a brilliant start and comes up with an overall above average product based on the burning issue of how children cope up with the tense situation in Kashmir.
The best part of the movie, which stays in your memory, is its opening sequence which comes just after the statutory declarations on the screen. The director starts convincingly with the deep baritone voice of "Mohit Chauhan" singing these immortal poetic lines of famous Urdu poet, Faiz Ahmed Faiz : "Gulon Mein Rang Bhare, Baad-e-Naubahaar Chale, Chale Bhi Aao Ke Gulshan Ka Karobaar Chale" Along with the soothing melody playing in the background, children are shown playing & roaming in the beautiful village lanes of Kashmir. And as a boy kicks the football lying on the ground, the songs stops abruptly, with the sound of a huge explosion. The ball, in disguise was a bomb planted by the militants. The theater goes silent and you are stunned with this unexpected start by the director.
After this breathtaking scene, the story moves into the life of a young boy and girl, who are close friends studying in the same school. Their life goes for a big turn, when once while walking to their school, they find a Gun lying on the ground. The boy decides to pick it up and keeps it in his bag. From there on, he gets caught in the web of local politics and militants working on a big conspiracy. The first half of the movie has the most impressive scenes along with few good performances from the cast. While watching the initial moments, you feel that the movie is made for a cause. But post intermission it starts moving towards a crime thriller genre and loses the realistic feel of the subject. Moreover, there are too many loopholes in the suspense element used towards its lengthy climax.
Parzaan Dastur (the child artist who played the sikh kid in "Kuch Kuch Hota Hai"), plays the title role of Sikander. He performs well with an amazing ease and confidence. You can feel the innocence in his acts and facial expressions. Ayesha Kapur (the child artist of "Black"), on the other hand tries to deliver an arty performance deliberately. But in the process she fails to establish a connection with her viewers. Sanjay Suri, as the politician on a peace mission and Madhavan, as the Army Officer, both deliver controlled and polished acts and impress. However the best show comes from the debutant Arunoday Singh, playing the Kashmiri Militant. Sadly his part gets over fast as he gets killed in the first half only.
Director, Piyush Jha, comes up with a good project which could have been a much appreciated one, only if he had stuck to his basic theme. Though he started off well with a brilliant sequence but later bowed down to the commercial needs of the market. Kashmir, and its beauty has been captured well by the DOP, showing many spectacular locations on the screen. The Kashmir Militancy problem is also handled in a very impartial manner, where the military and the militants blame each other for the tense situation in the valley.
Piyush, surely seems to be impressed by the masterpieces made by the Irani director Majid Majidi. A few sequences in the movie really remind you of Majid's great movies based on children and their thinking patterns. Like Majidi, Piyush also successfully maintains the feel of his project by using music and songs intelligently. The songs are not given much footage as per the subject but background music could have been more exciting and energetic in few important sequences.
In the industry where very few projects are made with children as their central characters, "Sikandar" is an above average product which could have been much more impressive. In simple words, though it may not have great prospects commercially, but it surely is a sincere effort towards making an Indian Majidi movie.
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