A Compelling Drama
By MovieTalkies.com, 11 September 2009
Director Ashu Trikha has probably come with his best effort ever in Baabarr. This is a gangster film, but with a slight difference. In a sense, Trikha has not really broken new ground as this film too goes ahead and explores the deadly nexus between gangsters, politicians and cops, the unholy trinity, if one may call them that. However, the scene of crime changes as it is no more Mumbai and its various bhais, but the lanes and bylanes of Uttar Pradesh where most of these bhais and henchman grew up. It is no secret that their genesis can be traced back to the little hamlets in the hinterland of UP and Bihar. Amanganj, where the film is set.
Trikha excels in the manner in which he has managed to recreate the maze-like lanes and bylanes of small town UP and the creed by which the people live by, even small children. He captures the ethos and culture of these small halmet towns perfectly, where guns are a dime a dozen and human lives even cheaper. He also manages to depict a mindset where the hand holding the gun commands awe and respect, almost like that reserved for one's gods.
It is a rare filmmaker who has managed to go to the interiors and make such an authentic film. Trikha's strength, where this film is concerned, is the authenticity and the detailing which has gone into its making. He is to be lauded for that. Trikha has got his feel right as well the dialogues too have been well researched and written, as one gets a perfect flavour of Aman Ganj through them.
The film has been extremely well written and Ikram Akhtar and Trikha can take credit for that. What one does revolt against at times is the shoddiness of the execution in places. It is too raw in places or too clumsy. Violence is a constant factor in the film, at times obviously gruersome and blatant or running as a strong undercurrent at others. However, there is no taking away from the fact that the film is bound to have a powerful impact on the audience.
Briefly, the film's story is about a 12 year old boy, who picks up a gun and shoots down a man in cold blood and then goes on to become Baabarr (Sohum Shah), of the most dreaded gunman in the state, with both the cops and the state government gunning for him. The government hands over Baabarr's case to an encounter specialist, played by Mithun Chakraborty, with orders to get him, dead or alive. He is assisted in his mission by another officer, as crooked as they come, played delightfully by Om Puri. The other main character in the movie is Baabarr's rival, Tabrez (Sushant Singh).
One of the aces that Trikha has managed to pull out of his cap has definitely been actor Sohum Shah. His being an unknown face helps as there is a certain freshness with which he attacks his role. He is definitely very effective and lives up to the aura created around the character of Baabarr.
However, the most outstanding performance comes from Om Puri. It is a perfect example of a nuanced performance. In contrast, Mithun seems to play it very straight, with absolutely no colour and looks quite bland opposite Puri. But it would still rank as one of better performances in these times. In fact, this film sees a lot of character actors displaying good performances like Tinnu Anand and Shakti Kapoor. Sushant Singh, another powerful actor, too does not disappoint. In fact, the entire cast delivers with effective performances and that includes Urvashi Sharma, Mukesh Tiwari and Govind Namdeo.
Even though one may not quite agree with Trikha's handling of certain scenes, one cannot take away from the fact, that he tells a very honest and compelling story, however, dark and violent. Despite the presence of an element of crudity and clumsiness, it is, at the end of the day, a well made movie. One must make special mention of cinematographer, Suhas Gujarathi, who does an excellent job in this movie.
Baabarr is not a classy effort, but the film will stand out for its honesty and integrity to its subject.