Sikandar: An engrossing fare
Starring: R. Madhavan, Sanjay Suri, Parzaan Dastur, Ayesha Kapoor, Ketaki Thatte and introducing Arunoday Singh
Director: Piyush Jha
Rating: 3 out of 5 *
Parents less Sikandar (Parzaan) is a 14 year old boy who stays with his uncle and aunt in Kashmir. He is a passionate footballer player but is often bullied by his three school mates. The loner Sikandar becomes friends with Nasreen (Ayesha Kapoor) who is new in his school and town. At the same time terrorism activities are on the rise in the state with militant Zahgeer (Arunoday) arriving in town with a sinister plan. No nonsense colonel Rajesh Rao (Madhavan) warns an eye for eye retaliation if the terror activities do not stop. Former militant leader turned politician Mukhtar (Suri) is trying to barter peace amongst the militants, the army and the religious hads. One day on their way to school, Sikandar and Nasreen find a gun lying on the road. A curious Sikandar picks up the gun despite Nasreen forbidding him to do so. When his school bullies try to trouble him yet again, he takes out his gun and points it at them. The fear he sees in their eyes thrills Sikandar. Then on he tries to use it to wriggle out of any troublesome situation. Zahgeer comes to know about Sikandar’s secret and manages to befriend him for his hidden agenda. He trains Sikandar to become a good shooter. Zahgeer then lures him into bumping off Mukhtar. What follows next is a deceiving game between the warring parties with Sikandar used as a pawn by both of them to achieve their motives.
Sikandar is an engrossing fare. There are four major twists in the plot that leave you completely surprised. While many films have earlier been made on the terrorism issue in the state of Kashmir, what sets Sikandar apart from them is the way Piyush Jha has managed to strike a balance between the child’s viewpoint and the adult’s dangerous games. Something like which Iranian cinema has been successfully doing for last few years. Generally films tend to show a negative portrayal of the Indian army in film’s set in Kashmir, but Jha has effectively shown the kind of pressure the army men work under to maintain peace in the valley and the reasons behind their certain actions. The film has some well penned sequences such as – Sikandar’s uncle pointing out the irony in the statement ‘Fight for Peace’, a character saying it would have been better had humans not set foot on this paradise (Kashmir), the verbal face off between Madhavan and Sanjay Suri and the scenes between Arunoday and Parzaan.
Somak Mukherjee’s camerawork captures Kashmir’s amazing natural beauty and the terror stricken state with equal ease. The music by Justin-Uday and Sandesh Shandilya is good with Dhoop Ke Sikke being the pick of the lot. Background score has been effectively used as well.
Parzaan best remembered for his act as the Sardar kid in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai is amazing in the title role showing remarkable maturity. Ayesha Kapoor had vowed everyone with her award winning performance in Black but in here her expressionless act coupled with a faulty dialogue delivery leaves you unmoved. R Madhavan fits the part. Sanjay Suri is simply superb. Newcomer Arunoday Singh has great screen presence and impresses in his relatively shorter part.
Sikandar is a must watch for Parzan’s sensitive performance and Piyush Jha’s able direction. Sure it tackles a dark theme but it doesn’t end on a darker note.
– Abhijit Mhamunkar / Sampurn