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Ramchand Pakistani

Rough-hewn and stereotypical, but it's a well-intentioned tale, with its heart in the right place.

Ramchand Pakistani
Ramchand Pakistani
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+0553
Starring: Rashid Farooqui, Fazal Hussain, Nandita Das
Directed by Mehreen Jabbar
Rating: ***

Coming just a few months after Khuda Ke Liye, Ramchand Pakistani provides yet another glimpse into the freshly energised, new wave cinema of our neighbour. Unlike Khuda Ke Liye, the film doesn’t introspect on Islam. Instead, the thrust is on the ordinary people on either side of the divide and their essential large-heartedness. In fact, there are hardly any villains other than political boundaries.

Ramchand is an 8-year-old Hindu Dalit from Bhimra village in Pakistan who strays into India and is caught by the police. His father Shankar (Farooqui), who follows him, also ends up in jail with him in Ahmedabad. Meanwhile, Shankar’s wife Champa (Das) waits for them to return, working as an indentured labourer. Innocents become victims of politics and have to wait for almost five years to find a passage back home.

The film may seem rough-hewn and stereotypical in terms of its spread of characters but makes for a well-intentioned tale, one that has its heart in the right place. A major part of the film is on how the father-son make a place for themselves in the Indian prison, the many colourful prisoners and police officials around them. The assortment of characters is presented with broad brushstrokes and the narrative is underlined with coarse humour (like the farting Bengali). The filmmaker plays on irony—while the Pakistani transgressors are Hindu, the superintendent of the Indian prison is a Muslim.

Two relationships stand out. There’s Ramchand’s equation with a woman officer, which is all about tugging at the audience’s heart-strings—she begins by keeping the untouchable at bay but eventually plants a little kiss on his cheek. The other moving one is Champa’s unspoken friendship with a helpful villager in the absence of her husband. The lead performers are in fine form. But Fazal, who plays the young Ramchand, steals the show with his spontaneity. Watch him cry for his mother when he gets scared in the cell. Utterly natural! The finale could have been a playground for high melodrama but Jabbar keeps it terse and quiet. What grates is the tapori lingo of the Indian cops; you don’t even hear much of it in Bollywood films these days.


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Courtesy: Film Information

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