Cast: Saif Ali Khan, Manav Vij, Deepak Dobriyal, Zoya Hussain
Director: Navdeep Singh
Music: Samira Koppikar
An epic action drama from the 18th century, the movie begins with a backdrop that you are required to connect dots for throughout the movie. A revenge drama unfolds with the introduction of the protagonist Goasain (Saif Ali Khan) showcasing his bravado in spite of the fact that he seems like a mercenary in search of someone. As the script unfolds, we discover that he is indeed in search of a Pathan warlord Rehmat Khan (Manav Vij), for whom he is willing to go at any length to hunt him down. He manages to get tipped on the whereabouts and that’s where all the drama continues from. This cat and mouse chase concludes in a predictable climax but what really happens in between forms the crux.
Having to bring across a plot from the era and making in convincing could have been a challenge but the cinematography, the set design and the editing take care of that. The production is of great importance here because the authenticity lent to the times is flawless. The various dialects used, the research of the clans and their customs, the equations of the internal conflicts for land extend a realistic portrayal. The cinematography by Shankar Ramen is commendable, especially for his take on the barren landscapes, camera angles and visuals. The makeup has already been trolled enough. In spite of that, the characters are distinct and stand out on their own due to the make-up and costume.
Saif Ali Khan has now been touted as a favourite for taking on experimental subjects and characters and this one is another feather in his cap. He grabs his character by the teeth and does not leave it till the end. He is menacing, clever and savage. Deepak Dobriyal as the ‘seeker’/tracker lends an amazing act. His precociousness is exquisite and not many characters in Hindi cinema are written like that. Both these characters move parallel for the most part of the film. It is interesting to note how their paths cross and their cause becomes one. Personally, I feel this is a win for the writers of the story, because both of these characters are unlikely and highly unreliable. Manav Vij has been made out to be the larger-than-life villain but the script has little to showcase his viciousness. Barring his introduction where his ruthlessness comes to the fore, he has nothing else to do in the rest of the movie. The other supporting cast could have been crafted better, given the scope. Neeraj Kabi (in a special appearance) stands out the most where his expressions lend more than the dialogues he has been given.
The movie delivers an excellent insight into the life and times of the 18th century India where the East India Company is trying to gain their foothold. Where it truly fails is the screenplay which makes this pursuit of vengeance, prolonged and slow. Considering that the audience is used to high-octane chases in Hindi cinema, this one lags far behind. However, if we simply excuse it basis the times that it hails from, it still is a remarkable portrayal of the lex talionis.
Most reviews have failed this one, but had the movie been released on the online media, it would still have found many takers. It is not surprising that it won’t garner the apogee of great moviemaking, but it is a superbly portrayed experimental cinema. Sometimes, it is great to have a break from the mundane song and dance drama. Watch it.
Here is what you can expect: