Sikandar Hindi Movie Review
Dark, disturbing and violent themes captured through the eyes of children have often created stunning cinema- Turtles Can Fly, Pan's Labyrinth, Let The Right One In, or closer home, Santosh Sivan's Tahaan- are all moving and mesmerizing examples of films that acutely capture the juxtaposition of innocence with evil. Piyush Jha's Sikander belongs to the same bracket of films, but sadly lacks any of the impact of the aforementioned films.
The film starts with promise, and the story, about a young schoolboy in Kashmir who finds a pistol while walking to school, and the events that this well, triggers off- is pretty engaging too, save for some liberties taken, but the screenplay is too flat, lacking dramatic resonance and oddly structured as part-drama, part-thriller- never managing an effective balance. The director also doesn't consistently follow the child protagonists' point of view, and the characters are poorly written.
The performances and their handling- especially in the case of the child actors are particularly disappointing. Parzan Dastur (Parzania) and Ayesha Kapur (Black) have impressed with their work in the past, but the director fails to extract quality work from them, and their performances, especially Kapur's (tragically miscast- she struggles with everything from body language to dialogue) are always awkward and not enough to shoulder the film. Besides, their characters are treated as little children while the actors evidently look like young teenagers, and the overt naivety bestowed on them is baffling. Sanjay Suri, R Madhavan and debutant Arunodoy Singh in supporting roles, on the other hand play stock caricatures with pretend seriousness that's difficult not to be amused at.
Sikander is another example of good intentions not summing up to much- and while Piyush Jha must be applauded for his brave and topical choice of subject- his film again reinforces the fact that films about children are, in fact, anything but child's play.