A saga of the struggle after freedom

A saga of the struggle after freedom
Gour Hari Dastaan
Hindi (U)
Cast: Vinay Pathak, Konkona Sen Sharma, Ranveer Shorey, Tannishtha Chatterjee, Rajit Kapoor, Vikram Gokhale and others
Director: Ananth Narayan Mahadevan

Films often inspire newspaper headlines and articles. However, on the rare occasion when news fuels films, the results are more often hard-hitting than not!

With precedents like Shimit Amin’s “Chak De! India” (Amin reportedly saw a photo in the newspaper of Indian girls standing on the road with an international hockey championship trophy) and Rajkumar Gupta’s “No One Killed Jessica” (the front-page headline of a daily the day after all the accused in the Jessica Lall murder case were acquitted by a court), actor-turned-director Ananth Narayan Mahadevan had huge expectations to live up to.

So when he cast character actors in key roles, including the leading ones, for “Gour Hari Dastaan”, it showed he had an audience in mind very different than his last film, “The Xpose”, catered to. He should be pleased to know it worked, and how!

Vinay Pathak is absolutely heartbreaking and haunting as the eponymous freedom fighter looking to prove to a world perennially in denial that he really fought for the country.

He is ably supported by Konkona Sen Sharma as his wife, Ranveer Shorey and Tannishtha Chatterjee as journalists who take interest in his story, Rajit Kapoor as the eccentric anti-corruption activist and lawyer who fights his case, and Vikram Gokhale as the chief minister who embodies the “system” our protagonist is taking on with pen and typewriter.

Alphonse Roy’s cinematography and Sreekar Prasad’s editing are masterly strokes that embellish Mahadevan’s style of storytelling, where urban or natural vistas find no place. Instead, tight close-ups with facial expressions fill even the quietest of scenes with emotional eloquence and develop characters right before our eyes!

Take for example the scene where the Opposition party leader says he will raise Das’ issue in the Assembly, with politicisation written all over it. Or how all things British were/are better becomes a leitmotif for the film. Or how actors like Asrani, Viju Khote and Saurabh Shukla, and a host of others, leave their mark with small, but not insignificant, roles.

“Gour Hari Dastaan” is possibly one of the best films so far this year, and a lesson in how filmmaking can and should look beyond the bawdy-gaudy and still be an entertaining multi-watch!

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