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REVIEW: Road To Sangam

It was only the other day I was discussing the spate of Bollywood’s new age films like Aamir, A Wednesday, Mumbai Meri Jaan, Firaaq et al and why more and more people are falling for such films despite being made on shoe-string budgets and dished out on deglam platters. I realized the best part about these films are its screenplays which hits you instantly and compels you to think, ponder about facts of lives which we otherwise ignore. One needn’t be prudent or preachy all the time to communicate in the simplest possible way, isn’t it?

Amit Rai’s Road to Sangam is yet another addition to the marquee that talks about the age-old bitterness etched in the hearts of several Hindus and Muslims during the 1947 partition.

Raju Hirani’s Munnabhai did instill in us a new hope with his ‘Gandhigiri’. He made us respect the man all over again, the man who got us independence. Amit Rai’s film too has the powerful message of humanity and non-violence practiced by the great Mahatma.

Road to Sangam is a simple story of a devout Muslim car mechanic, Hasmatullah (Paresh Rawal). He runs a workshop in one of the prominent Muslim localities of Allahabad. He is also the secretary of the local mosque committee but doesn’t share a cordial rapport with the president Nawab Kasuri (Om Puri). Life goes on until one day he is entrusted with the job of restoring an old V8 Ford Engine within a week’s time.

Hasmatullah is elated to take on the vintage machine, completely oblivious to the fact that it was the same engine that carried the ashes of Mahatma Gandhi to be immersed at the Sangam (the point where the rivers Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati meet).

As Hasmat works on his new assignment, a powerful bomb explodes in his town leading to the arrest of many innocent Muslim youths.

President Kasuri along with Maulana Qureshi (Pawan Malhotra) calls for a strike and orders the shopkeepers to shut shop as a mode of protest against the government. Hasmat joins the boycott only to realize the importance of work at hand.

Hasmat is in a fix. Will he support the protest and abandon the repair of the engine or go against the wishes of his community. Thus begins the journey of a true Muslim with a real Gandhian spirit.

Paresh Rawal is excellent in the film with his fiery spirit masked with a calm demeanor. The way he approaches the issue by subtly adapting non-violence is too good.

Pawan Malhotra as the Maulavi who keeps provoking the committee men in the name of religion deserves a special mention. Boy! With his voice modulation, kohl eyes and beard, he definitely looked the part.

Om Puri is good, but this is certainly not one of his best performances.

The film also sees Tushar Gandhi, the great grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, debuting on the silver screen. Tushar plays himself in the film.

First timer Amit Rai does an admirable job in making a thought provoking film that drones the message of equality and humanity without getting clichéd.

The story is gripping but the pace is extremely slow giving the film the feel of a docu-feature, which somehow evaporates the tremendous impact it made at the interval.

Although the director insisted to keep the visuals exactly the way he wanted, I suggest he should have done away with the prolonged clippings of pre and post independence period which for some reason didn’t get merged with the film seamlessly. The special effect used in the last scene to create a ‘mob sequence’ looked exactly as a cut-copy-paste job. Tighter editing was the need of the hour.

Coming back to histrionics, if you have actors like Paresh Rawal, Om Puri and Pawan Malhotra shouldering the onus of the film with a reasonably good storyline, something good is sure to come out, right?

Well written dialogues mouthed by Paresh Rawal like: Hamare liye uske apno ne uski jaan li or Main mahan kam nahin ek mahan aatma ka kam kar raha hoon, supports the film and its cause.

The music by Sandesh Shandilya, Vijay Mishra, Nitin Kumar Gupta and Prem Hariya is soothing.

VERDICT: No doubt the film got the best film award at MAMI and rave reviews at the International Film Fest of South Africa, Los Angeles Reel Film Fest and so on. And what better time to release the film when we are so close to commemorate Gandhiji’s 31st death anniversary on Jan 30. It’s a journey worth exploring.

2.5/ 5


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