Film: “Sargoshiyan”; Directors: Imran Khan and Vijay Verma; Cast: Indraneil Sengupta, Hasan Zaidi, Sarah Arfeen Khan, Aditi Bhatia, Khalid Siddiqui, Alok Nath, Farida Jalal, Tom Alter, Shahbaaz Khan; Rating: **
If the media has been painting Jammu and Kashmir as an unstable state where terrorism thrives, the film “Sargoshiyan” shows another facet of the place.
“Sargoshiyan”, which means whispers, reverberates with the sentiments of the people of the state. Designed as a road film with innocence and friendship as its core theme, the film captures the ethos of the people living there.
The narrative begins with two hard-on-luck friends Vikram Roy (Indraneil Sengupta) and Aryan Raina (Hassan Zaidi) travelling to Kashmir.
Vikram is an ace photographer stuck in a broken and abusive marriage, so when his haughty wife taunts him for being a loser, he promptly takes up an assignment for a calendar shoot of Jammu and Kashmir Bank. He also cajoles his friend Aryan Raina, a Kashmiri boy, with no ties in the state, to accompany him.
During their stay in Kashmir, they are accompanied by Imran Dar (Imran Khan), the Public Relations Officer of the bank and a young Britain-based Kashmir enthusiast named Sheena (Sara Arfeen Khan). Together, the foursome travel to the remote areas of the state only to discover their myths broken and perceptions changing.
Written by the director duo, the script, packed with numerous tales of the valley, seems forced and superfluous making the entire viewing experience insipid and synthetic. The sub-plots, though cliched, give you a fair insight into the lives of the people. It is the treatment of the scenes that lacks depth.
Probably due to this the performances too seem loud, over-the-top and devoid of emotions.
It is Shahbaaz Khan as Hamzabhai, a local guide along with a bed-ridden daughter who brings gravitas to his scenes. The undercurrent of tension adds to the drama but soon dissipates.
While Indraneil Sengupta, Hassan Zaidi and Alok Nath who essays the role of Aryan’s grandfather Panditji are perfunctory, Sara Arfreen Khan excels as the boisterous, irritating and inquisitive Sheena.
Aditi Bhatia as Aryan’s love interest is charming. Farida Jalal as Raheemabi, the old lady waiting for her son to return and Tom Alter as the renowned photographer Allan Alter, are their usual selves. They do not add any nuances to their character and are thus limp and forgettable. And, Imran Khan as Imran Dar is a misfit in his role.
Mounted with moderate production values, the visuals lack creative frames. The film gives you the impression of a well-made television programme, with high decibel levels. Also, the treatment of the film, with the numerous songs that seamlessly mesh into the narrative reminds you of the films of the late 1980s.
Overall steeped in mediocrity, the film nevertheless offers a fresh perspective on Jammu and Kashmir.
By Troy Ribeiro