Bollywood and culture in an emerging India
Partition: A not-so-epic love story
It’s unusual for Indian cinemas to screen a 2007 film that has already had its television premiere.
But the stand-off between Bollywood producers and multiplexes has resulted in a slew of otherwise straight-to-DVD films getting a chance at the box-office.
This Canadian production revolves around the love story of a Sikh man and a Muslim woman drawn together by the partition of India in 1947.
The storyline is familiar — the Bollywood hit “Gadar: Ek Prem Katha” (2001) had an uncannily similar plot. But despite a host of accomplished actors, this Vic Sarin film is never as impressive.
Illiterate villagers mouthing dialogues in English is okay but an Indian actor in the role of Naseem (Kristin Kreuk) would have been more believable. And although Jimi Mistry as the protagonist Gian is first-class, Irrfan Khan and Vinay Pathak are wasted in their two-bit roles.
Neve Campbell plays with aplomb the role of an English lady who helps Gian search for Naseem’s missing family after the riots.
This is certainly not one of those ‘Pakistan is bad’ propaganda movies — director Sarin ensures there are good and bad characters on both sides of the border. But Naseem’s brother Akbar (Arya Babbar) remains a stereotype.
“Partition” loses its bearings after a placid first half, hurtling towards a predictable and unimpressive climax. Still, it’s worth a watch for its lovely cinematography.
I wasn’t so sure about the trains depicted in the film — they seemed too modern to be around 60 years ago. And the idea of a devout Sikh converting to Islam just to get across the border seemed a bit far-fetched.
Don’t expect “Partition” to be one of those sweeping epic love stories — it never reaches to such heights. If you are a Jimi Mistry fan, catch the film in your neighbourhood cinema. Otherwise, just wait for it to come around on your television screens.