Film: Ramchand Pakistani
Producer: Javed Jabbar
Director: Mehreen Jabbar
Cast: Nandita Das, Rashid Farooqui, Fazal Hussain
There is no disputing that Ramchand Pakistaani is a film straight from the heart. The kind of film that makes you think and reflect. But, even if it is that very kind of a film, it is not the best amongst them nor is it told in the most compelling manner.
Like every little boy, Ramchand (Fazal Hussain) is full of mischief. With a doting mother (Nandita Das) and concerned father (Rashid Farooqui), he is brought up with much love and little money. The film goes into full swing when over a tiff with his mother, Ramchand crosses into the Indian side of the border. Unknowingly and with much innocence he walks into India from his village on the Pakistani side, only to be caught and detained by the border police. In an effort to save his son, Shankar too follows him into India and gets caught. What ensues is the yearning of a mother for her family to return, the patience of a father and the pain of a son of having to choose.
In no way could the story be any better. Without looking at it as a true story and simply judging it as just another story written, it still is fantastic. Having said that, it should also be said that this fantastic opportunity to create an outstanding film is missed by a huge margin. Having strong characters alone does nothing for the film. The manner in which it is executed and the manner in which the story is narrated also plays a crucial role. In that aspect Ramchand Pakistani fails.
What is a thorough let down in the film is the manner in which it is shot and the pace of the entire process. The film in many parts is unfocussed and the pace is dreadfully slow, to an extent that the film feels stagnant. Certainly at many points the repetitive nature of a scene was to convey strong message of acceptance or change; but then having understood it why drive the nail further? It is small things like these that actually hinder the film. There is so much that could have been done to make the film more impactful, but then was not. Texture, colour, emotions and so many other elements could have been played with to create this one fantastic piece of work, but no.
If anything the film is worthy of a watch to see how subtly various sub plots are explored without actually taking away from the main story. In fact they contribute volumes to the manner in which each character is built. The characters created are real and filled with personality and kudos to that. Everything in the film falls in place and there is no extravagance or something that feels forced. It’s almost like a personal let down to see a film that is perfect in every aspect and brilliant in every sense falter in the most basic of things. Even the editing is not that crisp and maybe if it had been a tad better; we would end up watching a better film. If it were not for the cast actors and their strong performances’, it would be hard to see the film despite the fantastic plot.
Hussain conveys the transformation in his character with such finesse; it would have to be one of the best performances ever seen on celluloid. Farooqui as the father could not have been any more convincing. His every action and word echoed his character. Very simply, for anyone who has seen Das in any of her films will say this is not her best. She is great in this film, but like in every other film where she dazzles, in this she just doesn’t. To understand what is being said go see the scene in Mani Ratnam’s Kannatil Muttamittal where she is giving up her daughter or go see before the rains, Lal Salaam, Bawander; where she is exemplary and incomparable. Yes she moves you with her performance in this film, but something just seems amiss.
On the whole the film is a worthy watch. However it is not something you go recommending to people, simply because it is not extremely well shot or paced. So if you have the time and the patience, please watch it.