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Friday, 2 May 2014

Kya Dilli Kya Lahore

What an outstanding concept!!!! I was sold when I saw the trailer last week – and I wonder why the trailer released only a week before the movie’s release.  The story was so simple and yet when the movie unfolds, you understand that it has to do with so much more than what just meets the eye – so much to do with human emotion and behaviour. Wonderful is the word that comes to mind.

Kya Dilli Kya Lahore is also special for 2 reasons other than the movie itself.  It marks the directorial debut of one of India’s finest actors / voices – Vijay Raaz. I can tell you that he is as comfortable in front of the camera as he is behind it.  It also marks the return of Gulzar Saab in a role that is more significant than just lyrics for a song or 2.  Gulzar Saab is involved with KDKL as a chief mentor.

“Lakeerein hain to rehne do,
kisi ne rooth kar gusse mein shayad kheech di thi
Unhi ko ab banao paala aur aao kabaddi khelte hain
Lakeerein hain to rehne do”
One cannot really translate it and do justice to these lines from one of India’s greatest poets / lyricists but to put it loosely, it beseeches us to forget our differences and woes and live life in the moment.

KDKL starts with these wonderful lines that I was compelled to take down.  The next 95 minutes or so is an exhibition of some stunning dialogue / screenplay writing and most of all acting.  Rehmat Ali (Vijay Raaz) is a sepoy in the recently separated Pakistan.  He is commanded by the leader of his platoon, a Pakistani Captain (Vishwajeet Pradhan) to infiltrate the other side and recover plans for a tunnel.

Rehmat is now caught between the devil and the deep blue sea.  You see, live 25 million people who chose to move sides during the most disgusting period in Indian history, Rehmat was forced to leave his life at Chandni Chowk, Old Delhi and move to the other side.  He now faces the dreaded task of walking across the border through shelling to recover a file – that may as well be a hoax.

On this side of the border is Samarth Pratap Shastri (Manu Rishi), a cook, who is the only one left at the post.  He has moved to this side from Lahore.  The platoon he serves had gone for their routine rounds but never returned.  What we have now is a Petrified Pakistani from Old Delhi and an Incredibly Insecure Indian cook from Lahore in a build up towards a Mexican stand-off.   How is that for a story!!!!

If a film school has to showcase maximization of resources, KDKL should be right up there.  4 actors of which 2 have support roles.  Of the 2 lead actors, one is also the director and the other a dialogue writer.  The chief mentor is also the lyricist and screenwriter.  The sets include a dilapidated check-post, a few sandbags, some barrels and a few tents to complete the picture.

The story unravels the fickle nature of the human mind with instances such as the protagonists changing sides at gun point.  It also shows us how those who weren’t involved in the partition would never understand what people from either side went through and therefore ironically, the only people who could actually empathise with refugees on one side would be the mujahirs (refugees) from the other side.

KDKL is a beautifully written story with some power packed performances.  It has some glaring errors though which could have been avoided very easily.  These are stories and performances which get awards for its makers.  The mistakes may cost them dear.  However, it is one of the better movies from 2014.  7 on 10.  Don’t miss it.

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