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PATAAKHA - The storyteller in Vishal makes a comeback with an original, novel tale, outstanding performances and an authentic, raw execution that deserves to be seen. (Review By Bobby Sing)

29 Sep, 2018 | Movie Reviews / 2018 Releases / ALL ABOUT INSPIRED MOVIES / Inspired Movies (Alphabetical) / P

There might be various interpretations of the word 'Cinema' in both technical and personal terms for different individuals. But as I see it, Cinema is the most powerful medium of storytelling that makes a strong impact on the viewer through a fine mix of its effective elements of sound (audio) and picture (moving visuals) having a much wider reach. So what I personally keep looking forward in films as well as books is fresh, unique plots or storylines, introducing me to many new, unknown characters resulting in my own growth as a person, widening the thought process.
Sadly, in the world of movies, we constantly keep enjoying as well as praising the same old stories executed in a different manner, managing to bring in some kind of freshness every year or so, like a willfully accepted routine without any choice as such. The old wine in the new bottles keeps selling at the box office without any complaints made and very rarely comes a film with something entirely original, adapted for the very first time on screen amazing one and all. The shortage of daring, courageous filmmakers, who read a lot and are deeply connected with literature (a rarity among the younger generation) is also one of the key reasons of this unfortunate void but the fact doesn’t seem to be bothering many in the present world to be very honest.
However, for me, if a film has to tell an entirely fresh story never read or heard before (by even the well-read) and even after more than 100 years of our cinema, then its precious and worth recommending for sure, for this very reason alone keeping aside its other notable achievements and cinematic merits.
Thankfully Vishal Bhardwaj’s PATAAKHA is that rare film offering a fresh, original storyline revolving around two constantly fighting sisters, never adapted before in a Hindi film (moving ahead of the usual plot of siblings falling in love with the same boy or girl). Recently we did see rivalry between brothers in Shakun Batra’s KAPOOR & SONS (2016) in an impressive but somehow routine manner involving a girl. However Bhardwaj’s PATAAKHA explores the relationship between two sisters at an entirely different level in a novel and unique style as never before.
Adapted from a short story by Charan Singh Pathik originally titled DO BEHNE, the film might not feel like a sheer gem or a classic throughout its 135 minutes of duration, yet can easily be called the comeback film of the storyteller in Vishal Bhardwaj post his last major debacles.
Having praised its never-before kind of storyline above, there is no way I am giving any hints about its basic plot in the write-up ruining the surprise element. Besides I seriously feel anyone writing about the film should also strictly restrain from doing the same keeping the excitement intact.
Anyway, stating its limitations first, PATAAKHA takes its own time to pull you in, to establish the relationship with its viewers and then gives you a great time in the next 50 minutes till the intermission, which happens to be the most crucial as well as entertaining part of the film forcing you to praise the original story-writer. It continues the good work in the second half before the proceedings suddenly move into an unexpected psychological zone that might look odd and unconvincing to many as something forced or unrelated to the earlier engaging progression. However the narration soon bounces back and successfully entertains you till the finale, ending on a happy note.
Unfortunately the soundtrack or the songs, yet again remain one of the weaker elements of the film despite the well-shot, earthy “Balmaa” (I loved the most) and the catchy title track. The songs seem fine while watching the film but they are as usual not the ones you unknowingly take back home continuously playing in your mind. Interestingly where the key phrase of ‘Kulhar Phorhey Gali Gali’ strongly reminded me of ‘Tere Kaarey Kaarey Naina” from the famous Kajrarey track, I really found the western arrangement in its title song and more, strangely out of sync with the film’s otherwise rural theme and feel. Thankfully Vishal deleted the ‘unrequired’ (Malaika Arora) item song from the final edit, which I would personally also love to be declared as ‘Not By Gulzar’.
Mentioning its strong merits, giving you an overall feel of the movie, PATAAKHA isn’t any usual emotional drama between two sisters and their love affairs. Instead this is a light hearted, black comedy loaded with an enjoyable quirky humour, the director is known for. 
Apart from the fresh entertaining premise, it has an unpredictable story progression, gripping sequences and well-written dialogues that slowly spell the magic, taking you into the world of two continuously nagging sisters, their father and their chosen husbands. The truly authentic environment, locations and the language adds another appreciable charm to the film, which is realistic in its every sense that has become a rarity in the present Hindi cinema to be honest. 
Set in Rajasthan, the film scores in its delightful detailing, raw cinematography, genuine art-direction, outstanding costumes, make-up and background score contributing a lot to its overall impact. In fact such is the impressive make-over of the lead girls that it’s hard to believe that they are the same beautiful girls smilingly giving their interviews at various online channels. In other words, the transformation of the two girls here is way beyond even DANGAL giving the entire creative team their deserving credit.
Sanya Malhotra, in her second film post DANGAL and Radhika Madan making her debut on the big screen are simply first-rate and truly admirable in their stunning transformation and unbelievably realistic performances. Enacting extremely difficult roles many would not like to begin with, the girls not only display their huge confidence and dedication, but an amazing understanding of the art-form too, which is not normally seen in debutants or beginners of the present ‘net-savvy' world - for which the director Vishal Bhardwaj surely needs to be given the credit along the young exceptional talent.
Frankly, the film unconditionally has to be seen for these two girls as a must, especially if you are an aspiring actor or willing to enter the world of cinema in any related stream.
PATAAKHA also excels when it gets its most important support from Sunil Grover (playing the instigator as well as the narrator) and Vijay Raaz (as the father) truly living their given roles in an entertaining manner. They both deliver terrific individual performances and keep the light hearted momentum going right till the final scene. Namit Das and Abhishek Duhan as the two husbands, Sanand Verma as the rich money lender, Sameer Khakkar as the Sarpanch and others do complete justice to their characters forming a great cast.   
In all, PATAAKHA is a beautiful, authentic adaptation of an unheard of story with two outstanding performances that can easily be stated as a benchmark for the new, upcoming actors. Intelligently incorporating a metaphor for the rivalry between India and Pakistan (and many other countries in the world), this has Vishal Bhardwaj returning to the screen as one of the finest storytellers of our times, delivering a unique kind of entertainer, never tried before. Personally it seems that in PATAAKHA he has successfully managed to achieve and deliver, what he somehow couldn’t do in his MATRU KI BIJLEE KA MANDOLA (2013) made in similar settings.
So go for it as a must, especially for the lead performances and if you consider cinema - the most powerful and expressive medium of storytelling.
Rating : 3.5 + 0.5 / 5 (with the additional 0.5 for bringing us a completely new story never told before.)

Tags : PATAAKHA Review by Bobby Sing at bobbytalkscinema.com, New Hindi Films Reviews by Bobby Sing, New Bollywood Movies Reviews by Bobby Sing, Hindi Films made on unique stories from literature, A rare story in a Hindi film
29 Sep 2018 / Comment ( 0 )
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