Pataakha review: It’s about more than just sibling rivalry

Though the film slackens a bit after interval, it can very well be endured considering the story, the characters and the raw, rustic humour, which makes it a truly pataakha of a film

Photo courtesy: social media
Photo courtesy: social media

Pragati Saxena

Vishal Bharadwaj is back in his elements with Pataakha. If you ever experienced sibling rivalry or even rivalry among cousins as kids, you will love Chhutki(Sanya Malhotra) and Badki(Radhika Madan) in Pataakha.

They fight like cats, and when they fight, they do not even acknowledge their father’s presence. They are not even conscious of the presence of the cheering crowd. It is as if they love and cherish to fight with each other. But if any outsider intervenes, even if it’s their pal Dipper, they at once unite.

So why do they fight so? Even their affectionate father asks. And though Dipper gives an apparently funny explanation- they are like India and Pakistan, who keep finding excuses to fight with each other- it has a deeper meaning than just comic. The constant reference to India and Pakistan and former PM Vajpayee’s statement that we can choose our friends but not our neighbour, relations but not relatives, gives it more subtle undercurrents. Even PM Modi and US president Trump’s hug is used apparently as a comic relief but conveys a political comment more than any political satire.

And in the end, Vishal makes his human approach towards politics very clear through the narrator.

The casting is impeccable. Sunil grover, who earned fame with his comic avatar as Gutthi on television proves himself as an actor as Dipper, the narrator and a catalyst. Vijay Raaz is already a well established actor. The wonders of the film are Sanya Malhotra and Radhika Madan as sisters and Namit Das and Abhishek Duhan in the roles of their spouses.

Vishal Bharadwaj is par excellent in portraying rusticity and rural characters. Not only the environment of the entire film but also the attire, dialogues and even minute details of make up, even the nose pin, rings and yellow teeth of the beedi-smoking girls have been taken care of.

Two girls- Sanya Malhotra and Radhika Madan, considering their urban background have really worked hard on the rural dialogues and mannerisms. And they are indeed impressive. When these two sisters create bitterness and divide amid their husbands who are also brothers on Dipper’s advice, once again the India-Pakistan division despite their being inherently one is referred to.

There is even a very potent and symbolic usage of gaay (cow) which of late has become a sensitive issue in India.

Even after separation, both the sisters remain obsessed with each other, and become unwell- again a reference to India and Pakistan.

Our tendency to take refuge in black magic and superstition instead of looking at and dealing with the real problem is also reflected. As is the case with Vishal’s almost every film, this too runs on many levels and very effectively too.

When both the sisters end up suffering from psychosomatic disorders, there's this very strong question haunting- is he referring to our society? ( Of course, he is).

The casting is impeccable. Sunil grover, who earned fame with his comic avatar as Gutthi on television proves himself as an actor as Dipper, the narrator and a catalyst. Vijay Raaz is already a well established actor. The wonders of the film are Sanya Malhotra and Radhika Madan as sisters and Namit Das and Abhishek Duhan in the roles of their spouses.

Though the film slackens a bit after interval, it can very well be endured considering the story, the characters and the raw, rustic humour, which makes it a truly pataakha of a film. Through apparently a parable ind of a story, Vishal Bharadwaj conveys much more than just a ‘moral’ of the story. No one could have made a more nuanced film on the story by Charan Singh Pathik.

(PS: when will the film halls stop playing national anthem before the film? It's very awkward and now not even mandatory. Someone will have to categorically instruct them!)

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