‘Pataakha’ review: Bharadwaj makes a strong political statement

 

Director: Vishal Bharadwaj

Cast: Vijay Raaz, Sanya Malhotra, Radhika Madan, Namit Das, Saanand Varma, Abhishek Duhan

Ratings: *** 1/2

[dropcap]V[/dropcap]ishal Bharadwaj’s Pataakha is definitely not one of your run of the mill, usual films. It stands out on its own, with a delightfully unpredictable storyline and a quirky twist at every bend, thus making it a fun watch.

Adapted by a short story written by Charan Singh Pathak, Pataakha is about to sisters, elder sister Champa Kumari (Radhika Madan) and younger sister Genda Kumari (Sanya Malhotra). The sisters, who live in a small town in Rajasthan, are affectionately called Badki and Chutki by their widowed father (Vijay Raaz).

Badki and Chutki share a strange relationship, and they grow up wanting to beat each other up for any possible excuse. They start by hurling choicest abuses at each other which always ends up with a fight that could put wrestlers to shame. So much is the animosity between the two sisters that they don’t even pretend to be affectionate towards each other.

The two girls have distinctively different personalities. While Chutki is keen on finishing education and becoming a teacher, the older and bossier Badki dreams of starting her own dairy. And they share one dream, of being as far away from the other sister as possible.  As the fights between the sisters get uglier and uglier, they have managed to acquire lovers for themselves. An engineer for Badki and an English speaking army man for Chutki.

Bharadwaj’s self-assured execution of this story reveals a few layers as we go deeper into it. He actually uses the relationship between the sisters as a metaphor for the messy equation that India and Pakistan share with each other;  how the two countries love to hate each other just for the heck of it, like the sisters do. And how in their burning rage for each other, they forget the little kindnesses that they had shown each other or the basic affection that they share.

While narrating a seemingly innocuous story, Bharadwaj makes a strong political statement and that is the beauty of this film.

The two lead actresses of the film, Radhika Madan and Sanya Malhotra are both fantastic in the film.  It is difficult to tell that these two actresses are not from the place as they have managed to fit in very comfortably in the environment, speaking the local lingo fluently. The lingo is an issue here. For a viewer who doesn’t belong to the area, it is difficult to get a few of the crucial dialogues and that could be a problem.

Sunil Grover who plays Dipper, a friendly neighbour who loves watching the warring sisters in action, is a riot. Vijay Raaz as the helpless father trying to drill sense into his daughter’s brains is very good too.

Bharadwaj’s music and Gulzar’s lyrics make the songs of this film memorable and suit the quirkiness of the film.

Watch this film because it is unusual and loads of fun.