31st October Reviews
This Vir Das, Soha Ali Khan film has nothing – neither narrative nor engaging characters—on offer.
While the film manages to capture the unabated violence convincingly, and the efforts that stranded Sikh families to save their lives and a few Hindu families extending help, the impact doesn’t come across too strongly. So you might find the sequences of violence and barbarity leaving you a bit disturbed, but it gets forgotten with the next sequence that follows.
31st October is an important film, especially when many have gone scot-free in the anti-Sikh riots cases even after so many years. It’s going to be 32 years in 10 days.As they say, justice delayed is justice denied.
As a film, 31st October should have served to encourage a sobering sense of responsibility, a more truthful perspective on our identities — both individual and national — and a stronger tendency toward restraint in those who might find violence appealing. And justifying. There was a goldmine of rich material here, but there is nothing explored of the dark subject matter in this story.
Vir Das does touch an emotional chord or two as the father of Sikh boys, who has to make a decision between staking their lives at the cost of their religious identities.Given these limitations, 31st October could be a one-time watch.
Its theme is of pressing relevance. Yet, 31st October doesn't leave a lasting impression. It isn't half the film it could, and should, have been.
To its credit, the movie is only 102 minutes long, and you can see a sense of honesty in it. But the final product is underwhelming and looks like a small-scale remake of the Hollywood film franchise, The Purge (innocent people running scared on the streets, dodging murderous mobs).
We all know what happened on that date in 1984. It tells you nothing you don't already know - the villains, the victims et el. It neither serves as a grim yet unforgettable reminder of the day some men became monsters or offers hope that history won't repeat itself. As a film goes, it makes you feel nothing. And that's just sad.
31st October fails to engage you at any level, least of all emotionally.
A note of appreciation for Vir Das. The comedian holds his own as a likable sardar and father of two really annoying kids who should be nominated for Ghanta Awards for Annoying Children. In the future, 31st October will serve as his show-reel to directors who might want to cast him in 'serious roles'. Soha Ali Khan, who plays Vir's wife, sleepwalks through the entire film just like the other actors.
The only redeeming factor of the film is its political stance. The movie genuinely tries to depict the suffering of a community and the death toll that occurred on that fateful day. Anyone watching this film will have to settle for its intentions alone. Everything else in this melodramatic overdose is genuinely embarrassing.
31st OCTOBER could have been the opportunity by the national award winning helmer Shivaji Lotan Patil to make a strong and powerful statement on screen. Unfortunately the movie ends up as a sensationally forced recall of the 1984 horror that has a feeling in its heart but fails to convincingly put it on screen.
‘31st October’ is why fledgling inept filmmakers should stay away from history-invoking true stories, else such heinous acts might well be wiped out from the collective conscience for want of a skilled and able raconteur!
Apart from the fact that actors styled to resemble Congress politicians H.K.L. Bhagat, Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar are shown engineering the riots, there is little worth noting in this film.
The story of the Sikh pogrom after the Prime Minister Mrs Indira Gandhi was assassinated (31st October, 1984) has been well documented and accepted as something where no justice can be truly offered. But when a film attempts to dramatise the events in an amateurish way, the heart-wrenching awfulness of those events is lost. The audience feels no empathy in the fake emotions and the graphic blood and gore fails too.
This film takes you back to 1984 and shows you what happened after the assassination of the Prime Minister in a less gory way. Some of you may be able to relate to the incidents, while for others, it will be an enlightening walk back through history.
Audience Reviews for 31st October
The Horror! The Horror! ♦ Grade C-
What happened in Delhi and elsewhere in North India in the days following the assassination of former Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi, is gore insanity, to say the least. And this crime thriller here tries to reinvent one of those days with sheer pithiness and smallest fractions of the darkness, which engulfed the whole country in the final months of 1984.
Davinder Singh (Vir Das) is an office-goer who lives with his wife, Tajinder (Sohan Ali Khan), and two young sons in a quiet neighborhood. Immediately following the assassination, violence erupts in the whole state and nearby places, with Sikhs and Punjabis targeted for a crime committed by few nobodies. The story follows Davinder's, a low blood pressure patient, and his family's struggle for survival in a town filled with angry people who are out to draw endless flow of innocent blood.
The film adopts a slow burning narrative, and thus, will take its own time to hook the audience into the story which begins to gather moss only after the 20th minute. The single event about the family is what it mostly focuses on, with tidbits about random killings and unnecessary side stories. One will feel his/her heart thumping as the going gets tough for Davinder's family.
Surprisingly, there's no hint of any political backing behind the genocidal killings. The makers should have added few references, at least as conspiracy theories, to make the plot even more convincing. Still, the formulaic story takes a stand in itself and shows the darkness that happened more than 30 years ago. The makers clearly found the inspiration to make the film based on the topic's notoriety, and serve a virtual case for the victims, the kin of whom are still suffering to this day.
While Das is credible in his portrayal as a Sikh, Khan puts up a mundane act. She never really gels with the other characters despite them being her family members. Their dialogues also do not come out right as far the Sikh language is concerned. But, all this can be overlooked since the film has the capability to hook you.
Conclusively, other than narrating the heartbreaking story about the struggle for one's life in times of man made insanity, it also speaks about the virtue: it is not the appearance that makes a man of certain religion, but the heart and the faith.
BOTTOM LINE: Shivaji Lotan Patil's "31st October" is a slow-burning affair narrating real-life events that need to be watched so as to understand what extents humans can go in the name of patriotism and religious hatred. Rent a DVD!
Can be watched with a typical Indian family? YES