Movie Review: SEHAR (2005)
Another oldie. It’s been so long since I saw this movie, I actually almost forgot about this review. But I wrote this as well, like 6 years ago. Thankfully one of my shorter pieces from back then. Still contains a lot of irrelevant background info though. Bah. Old Shah is so embarrassing.
Rating: 4 Out Of 5 Stars
It’s almost been 10 years since an incredibly famous filmy couple gave two young kids the biggest breaks of their lives by casting them in a very small movie known as TERE MERE SAPNE. One of those young kids was extremely charming, charismatic and not to mention, funny. As grateful as Arshad Warsi Khan was to Amitabh Bachchan and his wife Jaya Bachchan to give him an opportunity in TERE MERE SAPNE, which was the feel good hit of that year by the way, he remained a sort of one-hit wonder in Bollywood after that. In 10 years, Arshad Warsi hasn’t done a lot of movies, compared to the resume of someone as young as say, Hrithik, Abhi or John Abraham. After trying a bunch of movies that were, honestly, pretty sad attempts, in 2003 Arshad Warsi came back and showed us exactly what he is capable of. Starting off the barrel in 2003 with MUNNABHAI MBBS. And it seems that every movie after that one, has been a bull’s eye, despite the length of his role, be it HULCHUL, KUCH MEETHA HO JAYE, MAINE PYAR KYUN KIYA, or the recently released hit, SALAAM NAMASTE. This time around though, it seems that Warsi is here to prove a point, which is driven home with a movie like SEHAR where he plays the main lead.
A debutante writer and a debutante director team up with a bunch of veterans and experienced actors to form a sort of unconventional group of talent who have hurdled together to create the subtle story in SEHAR. SEHAR is by no means an original story, nor is it a breakthrough when it comes to technical filmmaking. But it is an amazing drama with stunning performances and an extremely realistic portrayal of the police in India. Based on real life events, SEHAR is set in Uttar Pradesh of India where a Special Task Force of the Police has been brought together to respond to the threat of the rising criminal activity in their state by underworld gangs. Considering it is 1997 and cell phone technology is fairly recent, the criminals use this to their advantage as the authorities can’t monitor their cell phone conversations because of the fact that, well they do not know how to… yet. After long sessions in trying to understand how cell phones work, the Police force decide that they need someone who can cut through the technical jargon and give them a crash course in how to tap cell phones and keep track of the criminals’ movement in their state. Enter Professor Tiwari, a college communications teacher who is given the responsibility of aiding and educating the members of the task force in how to use this new mobile phone technology to their advantage. The task force is extremely effective in eliminating most of the criminal element in their city, until they are left with the most dangerous of those threats, a criminal known only as Gajraj Singh who has been behind every other criminal act in the state, in his blind abition to be in control of the entire criminal underworld. Like I said, not an original story, but the approach is what leaves one quite satisfied with this re-telling of real life incidents.
One of the great things about the way SEHAR is done is the narration. Director Kabeer Kaushik, who has also penned the story of this film, shows to us a world of criminals, police activity and the politics between the underworld and high ranking politicians through the eyes of a simple man such as that of a college professor. After an impactful performance in DUS, veteran actor Pankaj Kapoor essays the role of Professor Tiwari with conviction. As also the narrator of this story, which is told entirely in flashback sequences, Pankaj Kapoor displays his experience as an experienced art-house performer. Being known for his various performances in films such as the classic JAANE BHI DO YAARON and the recently critically acclaimed MAQBOOL, Kapoor gives us yet another convincing performance as the sole remnant of a group of honest people in a corrupt world trying to do good, as he tells his story for a TV show years after the fact. One of the reasons that SEHAR stands out for me, is Pankaj Kapoor. His brilliant performance as an everyday man that grows from being fearful of the sight of a gun, to someone who has witnessed and been part of a world where murder and violent acts are the norm, is just mind-blowing. His is just one of the many great performances in SEHAR.funniest role ever…
That funny, charming man we all know and love from TERE MERE SAPNE is nonexistent in SEHAR. One of what I would say is Arshad Warsi‘s best performance to date; SEHAR shows us exactly the things that Arshad Warsi is capable of as an actor. He amazes with a performance of that of an honest cop, who has to do what he can to rid his state of criminals and head up a task force in order to ultimately finish off the ever increasing threat of Gajraj. As Ajay Kumar, Warsi gives us a very restraint and most importantly non-humorous performance that is extremely intense and at times very vulnerable. Bound by administrative constraints, Ajay Kumar decides to form a Special Task Force of his own police branch who will not have to answer to anyone and more importantly, will be able to cut through all the bureaucratic red tape in order to continue their investigation more speedily. Arshad Warsi’s performance in SEHAR is remarkable due to the fact that he doesn’t try invoking any reactions in the audience as he does in his other films. It’s an honest portrayal which is so restraint and held back. One can really see how much Warsi has grown as an actor in these last few years. One thing is guaranteed, Arshad Warsi will never be seen in the same light after SEHAR.
Another performance that makes one go ‘hmmm’ in SEHAR is that of Shushant Singh as the villainous Gajraj Singh. Seen in various, character roles from movies like THE LEGEND OF BHAGAT SINGH to more recently in Ram Gopal Varma’s D, and also the critically acclaimed MATRUBHOOMI, Shushant gives yet another memorable character driven performance in SEHAR. His brooding eyes, deadly expressions and the overall atmosphere created around the character of Gajraj makes him out to be one of the most ominous villains ever. Also worthy of mention is Suhasini Mulay, who plays Ajay Kumar’s concerned mother.
The reason that SEHAR tends to stand out, at least to me, is because of the fact that the story plays out on a small scale even in its own world. Despite being a police drama, it doesn’t go overboard to try to expose political leaders as being part of the underworld, or preach a higher message of political corruption and its high reaching powers. All SEHAR tries to do, is tell a story about a certain few people who try to carry out their jobs and stop an immediate threat to their state. It’s not about police officers who go above and beyond the call of duty and take the dangers of their job home risking the lives of their loved ones because… ‘It’s the right thing to do’ or some other similar cliché. It’s about police officers who do what they know, deal with criminals to stop a criminal threat, they don’t take on the government of mafia gangs working under political regime. It’s a simple story about simple people doing what they know how to do, nothing more and nothing less. Director Kabeer Kaushik has to be applauded for daring to do a story which is not original and not that extravagant at all, but more of a realistic approach to a type of story that’s been done to death.