Apne Hindi Movie
In "Apne", heart and craft come together to create an amazing graph. It is indeed a very warm film.
But the narration is lengthy, sometimes tedious. What, for example, was the need for that ridiculous 'rock' song with one of Bobby Deol's hands in his pocket?
The length is understandable in a film that puts forward Dharmendra, playing a Punjabi 'Stallone' who has been disgraced in the boxing championship, and his troubled relationship with elder son (Sunny Deol) who won't box, and his younger son (Bobby) who can't.
Caught between the 'can't' and the 'won't' of lives that share tears and chuckles as destiny reigns hard blows, this portrait of bonafide emotions is free of duplication.
Full marks to Neeraj Pathak's screenplay for creating a near perfect vehicle for the Deols who excel in shedding tears - together and apart. Papa Dharam and his two sons share another common ground - they seem to suffer a perpetual bad hair day.
But don't let the awkward toupees and hairstyles come in the way of appreciating the deep focussed melodrama's undulating motions of light and shade. Cinematographer Kabir Lal paints the frames in colours several shades deeper than life. And that's the way it is meant to be.
Though the ladies are engagingly portrayed - Shilpa Shetty as the introverted Sunny's exuberant wife reminds you of Kajol in Karan Johar's "Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham" - this is a patriarchal story.
The film is populated with men who fight for self, family, country and morality on territory ranging from the terrace of a Punjab village, the boxing ring in New York and most importantly, the human heartland where most of life's ironic games are played by god and men.
Director Anil Sharma gets it right in almost every frame. The stretched-out plot takes the Deols, their elegant women and surprisingly restrained adversaries through several continents and time zones. Sharma never loses the threads of the plot as the characters scatter across the continents trying to restore family honour in hostile circumstances.
Yes, the narration gets excessively dramatic towards the end. But the magic of the real-life family being alchemised on screen is preserved until the very end.
Let's stand and applaud Sharma for attempting a theme so vast and dramatic, showcasing two generations of Deols plunged into the vortex of a battle that takes them through several levels of emotions and revelations.
Sharma picks up threads of lingering sorrow and abiding ties to weave a tale that's as sweet, strong and resonant as any grandma's tale about the simple god-fearing family that doesn't buckle under pressure.
It's not the content as much the tightly clenched treatment that gives the film a feeling of uncompromised ardour.
Swarming with characters and over-sentimental songs about family ties, "Apne" manages to hold its head high above the intrinsically treacly situation that Sharma creates for the Deols.
The performances are fine. But the immensely gifted Victor Banerjee's as the Deols' sounding board is the odd one out, specially when he materialises with prayer beads on screen to pray for Bobby's quick recovery. Good god!
This could have been one more mawkish attempt to bring together a family that suffers and celebrates together. Instead "Apne" is our own "Rocky". In fact, better. Not only are the boxing sequences first-rate, the emotions that the macho men invest into each other's lives makes them look like giants who think big and act for the camera fearlessly.