The year 2016 seems to be a year of biopic films and here is another one Sarabjit. It was indeed a much-anticipated film depicting one of the most powerful story of Sarabjit Singh. I was keen to understand how the director Omung Kumar has treated this story. When Veer-Zara released in 2004, in spite of it being a fiction, it was so painful to see Hindustani Veer locked up in Pakistani jail for no fault of his. Veer Zaara was also set against the backdrop of conflict between India and Pakistan, this star-crossed romance followed the unfortunate story of separation of lead protagonists Veer (Indian) and Zaara (Pakistani) for more than two decades. Yash Chopra very efficiently projected the story on screen. And here is Sarabjit, a film based on true incidents. The pain all the more increases since it is not just a film, Sarabjit and his family have actually gone through the ordeal. Sarabjit Singh, an Indian farmer, who crossed the border by mistake, could not return to his motherland when he was alive and also had untimely death at the age of 49 after he was beaten by his fellow jail inmates. The very thought of a person in flesh and blood going through these turbulent times makes this a very special experiential film. Sarabjit is going to leave you teary eyed. Isn’t it high time to stop this cross-border hatred? Lot of peace talks have happened, but nothing concrete has happened. The credits in the end show that many people are still jailed in both the countries. Let Omung’s Sarabjit become a source for many more such stories to be unfolded and let all innocent prisoners be able to go back to their respective motherland.
The film begins with a shot of Bhikhiwind (located along the Indo-Pakistani border in Punjab) in 1990. Dalbir (Aishwarya) is frantically searching for her brother Sarabjit (Randeep Hooda) in the fields, in and around. She tries to lodge complaint in regard to his missing. Then the frames move to past - 8 years back, where Dalbir is welcomed home along with her husband Baldev (Ankur Bhatia). And when Dalbir looks for Sarabjit, he is shown to be dancing with pigeons in his arm. Beautiful bond of brother-sister is shown through this song and also the entry of Sukhpreet (Richa Chadha) as love interest of Sarabjit happens. Sarabjit eventually marries Sukhpreet and is blessed with two daughters. Frames move back to Dalbir, Sukhpreet and Daarji’s (Ram Murti Sharma) search efforts for the missing Sarabjit.
Post nine months, Dalbir gets a letter from Pakistan, where Sarabjit expresses, how he crossed border in a state of drunken stupor unknowingly that ill-fateful night, when he was in the fields. He is being tortured in jail and forced to accept his identity as Ranjit Kumar (name changed in the film, he was Manjit Singh, the real terrorist in question), a suspect involved in the bomb blasts which resulted in killing many innocent people in Lahore and Faisalbad. Ultimately to escape from the torture, Sarabjit accepts his identity to be Ranjit. He is forced to accept the crimes, which he had never committed, and that is when the trials against him start and he is being sentenced to death-sentence. Rest of the film is about how Dalbir fights with the odds for more than two decades, does every bit possible to bring her brother back to India. Though the death-sentence of Sarabjit was postponed by Pakistan government for several years, but Indo-Pak conflict, blasts in either of the countries, nuclear missions etc. never allowed Sarabjit to come back home. The story of Sarabjit is known to us that he does get to come back to India only after his death.
It was difficult to sit through the film since it left me emotionally drained out. For me, this was not a film. I read many critical reviews of this film, but I felt that Omung has done justice to Sarabjit. In spite of this film discussing a sad tragic story, it had its own moments of joy, bonding, sharing, be it brother-sister bond of Dalbir-Sarabjit, bonding with sister-in-law Dalbir-Sukhpreet, the relationship amongst the family – Dalbir-Sukhpreet-Daarji-kids etc. Even a small ray of hope of getting Sarabjit back to India is a matter of celebration for the family.
The only part, which I felt missing in the film was that, the question in regard to Sarabjit being a spy since unconfirmed reports say so. But then, it was difficult to put across this part of Sarabjit’s story due to many limitations. But while watching the film, I was also wondering, even if Sarabjit was a spy and serving our country, how unfair it was that he could not live his life at all.
The whole film is conveyed from the perspective of Dalbir, Sarabjit’s sister. Aishwarya has indeed given a great performance. She has portrayed the courage, grit, determination, frustration of Dalbir so beautifully. Yes, her looks don’t support the character of a Punjabi woman, but, performance wise, she has done great work. Richa Chadha as Sukhpreet has less dialogues in the film, but what a remarkable performance by her. Her expressions as a wife who is dying to be with her husband, not losing hope even amidst despair are really great. Ram Murti Sharma as Daarji as a strong pillar of support to Dalbir, Sukhpreet and the whole family is also very good. Darshan as advocate Awais Sheikh has a brief role, but has given very much noticeable performance.
The show-stopper of the film is of course Randeep Hooda. What a performance! He has worked on his body, mind, and soul for this film. He has captured every emotion of Sarabjit and brought it alive on screen.
High point of the film is the feel that people on either side of the border have suffered due to Indo-Pak conflict, still, there are people on either side who stand for one another. Sarabjit could communicate through letters with his family only because of generosity of a Pakistani brother. Advocate Awais Sheikh’s risking his life by fighting for justice for Sarabjit is also incredible. Dalbir’s asking Awais Sheikh to back out due to threats for his life was full of pathos.
Certain other scenes which need special mention are:
The moments of Sarabjit with Dalbir, Sukhpreet, Daarji
Sarabjit getting tortured in jail
Sukhpreet standing like a rock-solid system with Dalbir, when she breaks down
Sukhpreet putting the lipstick always since Sarabjit loved it
Children Swapan and Poonam growing up with seeing father’s photographs in the media
All moments of despair
Occasional bouts of relief on progress in positive direction for Sarabjit’s case turning into celebration.
Sarabjit’s asking Dalbir to see him in all those innocent Pakistani prisoners in Indian jail
Music is soulful. Especially the song Salamat is so beautifully penned by Rashmi Virag, composed by Amaal Mallik and sung by Arijit and Tulsi depicts the story of love, passion, separation, pain of Sarabjit and Sukhpreet. Another song ‘Dard’ sung by Sonu Nigam, written by Rashmi Virag, Jaani, composed by Jeet Ganguli is going to stir your heart with emotions. ‘Rabba’ penned by Arafat Mahmood, composed by Tanishk Bagchi and sung by Shafaqat Amanat Ali is also very nice. Rest of the songs are also good.
Sarabjit, a biopic, a tragic yet powerful story, told in the most convincing manner, is packed with great performances by Randeep, Aishwarya, Richa and soulful music. This is not a film which is meant for entertainment but it is a film which makes one experience the pain, ethos, pathos of many Sarabjit (s) and his families on either sides of the border. Let this Indo-Pak conflict get over for ever. Insha Allah !
Sarbjits’ story is not only about difficulty or a very long time tussle made by a sister. It is about a great deal of endurance, courage and tolerance too. Aishwarya Rai is Dalbir Kaur here, Sarbjits‘ sister. Sarbjit is a farmer in Punjab near Indian-Pak border. On one night he is fully drunk and mistakenly crosses the border and gets arrested by the Pakistani soldiers. He is then forced to be Ranjit Singh, for carrying out harmful bomb blasts. He is not guilty of the crime. Then his sister seeks just behaviour and justice for him and tries to prove him innocent. Then what would happen? Dalbir Kaur is on the way to rescue Sarbjit.
Sukhpreet (Richa Chaddha) is Sarbjits’ wife who loves him very much and prays the all mighty to rescue him as soon as very possible. Randeep Hooda plays Sarbjit. He is very first rate and emulates exceptionally well. And Aishwarya is somewhat failing at her performance. Nonetheless eloquence of her dialogues create the very most appropriate impact.
Omung Kumar direction mastery is appreciating. He manages to show the viewer what Sarbjit had been through from the jail scenes. The film is made very clearly and is fully filled with emotions, courage and a race. When Dalbir sees finally Sarbjit it jerks you deeply, making you shed tears. A Spiritual High – rise.