Thursday, 26 July 2012

Harud (2012) Review by Shivom Oza – Interesting Subject, Let Down By Listless Plot

2.5/5 Stars

Set in militancy-ravaged Kashmir, ‘Harud’ revolves around a tattered family, coming to terms with the loss of their son.

With an interesting subject, Harud is a must-watch for those who want to know about the dark and grim side of Kashmir as well as those who have been carrying the wrong notion about the place. Brilliant performances by the cast, interesting cinematography and the hard-hitting concept notwithstanding, the plot does falter.
Rafiq (Shahnawaz Bhat), a young man, disgruntled with the turmoil in Kashmir, tries to escape to Pakistan by crossing the border. However, he fails to do so and is compelled to return to his family. His brother, Tauqir, has been missing since four years and is probably no more. His mother, Fatima (Shamim Basharat), who has been hysterically searching for Tauqir all this while, is a pained woman. The father, a traffic policeman Yusuf (Iranian actor Reza Naji), is stifled by the endless violence taking place on the streets of Kashmir and worries for Rafiq, as he doesn’t want to lose another son. The tension within the family along with that of the strife-torn Kashmir eventually pushes him to a state of mental imbalance.

Rafiq tries hard to find his footing, but fails to focus enough. He is forever in a state of delirium and seldom finds solace in the company of his friends, notably Ishaq (Mudessir Ahmed Khan), who harbours dream of making it big as a reality television star.

One day, Rafiq accidently finds his brother’s old camera and thus begins his obsession with photography. He finally gets a job and things start settling down for him. ‘Harud’, meaning autumn, is about the young man Rafiq and many other youngsters living in Kashmir. The Kashmir in the film is that of circa 2003, when mobile services had gotten activated. There is a scene in the film where a journalist asks youngsters, who have lined up to get a SIM card, what change will this bring. Most responses veered around the incessant violence at the valley. The people wanted a mobile phone so that they could inform their family about cross-fires/bomb blasts/ occurrence of violence and also keep in touch with them. This shows the pathos that the place begins to exuberate for the youth of Kashmir. There are other instances, where a journalist from Delhi mistakes a painting of three women in Burkha against a backdrop of the mountains to be from Afghanistan, only to be corrected that the location in the painting is Kashmir circa 1947. This kind of, encapsulates the ignorance about Kashmir among many people around the country.

The casting of the film is exceptional. Performances by the principal cast are phenomenal, especially considering a few of the members of the cast were non-actors. Shahnawaz Bhat, who plays Rafiq, embodies the pain and the cluelessness of a youth living in violence-struck Kashmir. His confounded expressions, sedate body language and calm demeanour set the tone for this melancholic film.

Shamim Basharat, who plays Rafiq’s mother, is good. Her character Fatima could have had greater relevance in the film though. The Iranian actor Reza Naji, who was also seen in ‘Children of Heaven’, plays a troubled Kashmiri father, struggling to look after his family eventually veering towards mental imbalance. He too, is terrific in the film.

Mudessir Ahmed Khan, who plays Ishaq, brings a lot of life to the film. The backslapping humour he shares with Rafiq and others gives the film the much-needed dash of humour.

Aamir Bashir wonderfully captures the solemnness of the autumn in Kashmir against the backdrop of violence. Some of the shots (cinematography by Shanker Raman) are thoroughly breath-taking. We’ve often witnessed the picturesque locations of Kashmir; however this film shows us the ‘real picture’. The plot (written by Aamir Bashir, Mahmood Farooqui and Shanker Raman) does beat around the bush before reaching an almost predictable eventuality towards the climax. The most important moments in the film are lost within the subtext. There’s too much to read between the lines within the needlessly long screenplay. One finds it difficult to gauge the motive of the film, besides of course, mirroring the violence in the valley. There’s a concrete story missing in the film. Not to say, that the makers should have incorporated a filmy angle just to make it commercially viable. However, the characters should have been more concrete. The film is a decent effort; however it fails to engage the viewer after a point of time.

Wonderful subject and exceptional acting, notwithstanding, the absence of an intriguing plot takes the steam out of the film. (First Posted in MSN)

Shivom Oza

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