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Punjab 1984 Review: About Wounds, Emotions And Simplicity

December 26, 2014 | By

There is no condoning of terrorism in the movie but it simply tells the story of a youth who lived for his pride and how he got manipulated into the act of terrorism.

Punjab 1984
Cast: Diljit Dosanjh, Kirron Kher, Pavan Raj Malhotra, Arun Bali, Rana Ranbir, Sonam Bajwa, Manav Vij, Vishwas Kini, Vansh Bhardwaj and G.S. Channi
Directed by: Anurag Singh
Produced by: Gunbir Singh Sidhu & Manmord Sidhu

kirron-kher-punjab-1984-posterIf Kirron Kher doesn’t get national award for a regional movie this year, it might be the loss of the awards. I was skeptical to watch the movie for various reasons:
– Many such movies have been made on Punjab and the plight of Sikhs.
– Punjabi cinema is mostly associated with romance and alcohol and comedy while this was supposedly a serious topic.
– It starred Diljit Dosanjh, who is more known for his singing than acting capabilities in Punjab.

What got me to watch it with undivided attention:
– The fact that Kirron Kher played the role of a mother.
– The opening scene of a mother begging for men around to help get some water for her dying kid as they are locked up in the Golden Temple.
– The real life incident that stayed with me. I was merely 5-6 years old and watched from my grandparents’ rooftop while below a Sikh youth was tied up in the middle of the road by the police. He was supposedly a terrorist and a relative of the neighbors. I was too young to know then but while I grew up and read and learnt more about the Emergency, I realised that unknowingly I had glimpsed that day the plight of thousands of Sikh youth caught in the web of politics, faith, religion and their own beliefs. There was no right or wrong side. No black and white.

There is no condoning of terrorism in the movie but it simply tells the story of a youth who lived for his pride and how he got manipulated into the act of terrorism. Diljit Dosanjh did wonders with his role as a happy-go-lucky guy who loses himself to terrorism after his father is wrongfully declared a militant. May be someone else could have taken the role to a different level but he didn’t do injustice to it either. The scene where he rubs soil from his fields to his body while missing his slain father is very well done.

But the movie relies heavily on Kirron Kher and her honest acting and goes many notches higher with the presence of Pavan Malhotra. For such a strong and frail portrayal of Satwant Kaur by Kirron Kher, the movie may have not made the kind of impact it makes on the viewers. From the scene she appears, she wins you over with her kind heart, mock-angry motherly words, her affection to one and all, her wide barren eyes that are tired of waiting, her pauses and her courage to face anything to know the whereabouts of her son. There are so many small nuances that Kirron builds up that make her character unique and gel with the concept of a warm, large-hearted Punjabi Jhaijis all Punjabis can relate to, she is a treat to watch. If her rich, loud Punjabi mom roles in KJo movies are fluffy, her role in Punjab 1984 takes her Punjabi mom role to a higher altitude. Her presence on the screen makes sure your eyes don’t waver for a minute and you feel every emotion she is going through.

punjab-1984

Diljit Dosanjh did wonders with his role as a happy-go-lucky guy who loses himself to terrorism after his father is wrongfully declared a militant

Pavan Malhotra surprisingly, plays a negative role after having touched our hearts in Bhaag Milkha Bhaag as Milkha Singh’s coach. But he brings the right degree of menace and hardheartedness to his character as the corrupt policeman who relies on encounters for his promotion and doesn’t hesitate to hit an old woman with bare hands and abuses. His end does give audience a sense of relief.

The movie ends on an expected a note but the end credits bring more poignancy with real life parents and relatives holding the photographs of their next of kin lost in the 1984 chaos. Punjab suffered it’s share of misfortune and terrorism before it all ended, but it still remains a faint ache, a faded wound ready to burst open every time incidents like this are recalled and touch the cord with the audience.

Hats off to Anurag Singh for making a movie that didn’t stray away from the main theme and didn’t try too hard to tug at the audience’s heart. Every character in the movie plays a very well thought out role and doesn’t go overboard with the mannerisms, dialogues and accents to bring the Punjabi touch which so often mars a Punjabi characterization in main stream Bollywood movies.

Titri, the mute innocent boy, Bittu the loyal friend, Jeeti the demure girlfriend, they all build a silent protective wall around Satwant Kaur and do very well in the small cameos they play. Songs don’t break the narration and are well suited and intricately woven into the situations. Film spares the viewers by not forcefully harping on overflowing buttermilk and sarson da saag dialogues, no unnecessary Bhangra and Giddha and no unappetizing jokes on alcohol and girls.

Punjab 1984 is every bit a serious, sincere effort from the makers to present Punjab as it was in 1984. Very highly recommended.

Shakun Rana Narang is Administrator of Moviemaniacs Facebook Group. The opinions shared by the reviewers are their personal opinions and does not reflect the collective opinion of Moviemaniacs Facebook Group or Silhouette Magazine. All pictures used in this article are movie stills from the Internet.

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Shakun Narang is passionate about people, dancing, music, kids and their safety rights, traveling and city exploring. She is a perpetual dreamer and dream-chaser, a friend for life and companion for all conversations and part time Agony Aunt. A moviebuff and bookworm herself she is actively working on her Facebook communities Moviemaniacs and Bookoholics to be that happy place where people bursting with views and reviews around movies and books can meet and mingle with like minded people.
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