Sikander: Good idea but not so good execution

August 21, 2009

Films on Kashmir and its insurgency are few and far between in Indian cinema.

The last such film I watched was Santosh Sivan’s “Tahaan”, a movie that tried to tell the story of this troubled paradise through the eyes of a child.

Director Piyush Jha tries to do the same thing with “Sikander” — the film’s protagonists are both teenagers, reacting to the violence and chaos around them.

Unfortunately, Jha succeeds only to an extent, presenting what had the makings of a good film but ultimately ends up being an unpolished, vague attempt.

Parzaan Dastur plays Sikander, a 14-year-old orphan with a passion for football. He stumbles upon a revolver on his way to school and despite protests from his friend Nasreen (Ayesha Kapur), keeps it with him.

That revolver sets off a chain of events the boy can no longer control, involving militants, politicians and the army.

Admirably, Jha does not try and take sides on the issue but he doesn’t manage to hold the viewer’s attention throughout the two-hour film.

The screenplay is loosely written and none of the characters quite find a place in your heart. The reasons for Sikander’s transformation are not specified and Jha tends to simplify things a bit too much.

A portion of the blame for the film’s flaws must also go to the performances, which are indifferent to say the least. 

Only Dastur manages sporadic bursts of acting, while the rest pretty much sleepwalk their way through the roles, including known actors like Sanjay Suri and R. Madhavan. 

The biggest disappointment is Kapur, who distinguished herself as the young Rani Mukherjee in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s “Black”.

A few years later, she is awkward and ill at ease in each scene while her dialogues are heavily accented, which doesn’t lend to her character at all.

“Sikander” is a film that had the germ of an interesting idea but that isn’t what ultimately ended up on screen. 

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