Cast: Pankaj Tripathi, Akshay Oberoi, Ragini Khanna Aamir Bashir, Shalini Vatsa, Ashish Verma, Arjun Fauzdar, Yogi Singha
Director: Shanker Raman
A farmer becomes a real estate magnate and the real story behind his rise to riches unravels. This film, based on true events (as claimed in the opening credit sequence) is a darkly ominous tale of greed and ambition that has its chief characters chose compulsive nihilism as a means to an end. It almost seems like Shanker Raman was making a companion piece to Kanu Behl’s Titli which aimlessly linked to the paradigm of brutal murders in the name of real estate development.
While Titli was about a family of petty thieves getting into brutal crime in order to raise the bar on their take away, Gurgoan literally tries to suggest that the birth of a city rests with one single family of crooked land owners- an implausibility that sits in your crow right through the intense narration of it.
The opening image has two blood red poles slowly emerging out of the river bed and then cuts to a farm house in Gurgoan where Tehri Singh (Pankaj Tripathi) and his family is celebrating Jamnashtami. His dear daughter Preeto (Ragini Khanna) is about to arrive from a foreign country where she had gone to pursue her masters in Architecture. The minute she arrives with her firang friend we are in the know about the lay of the land there. His older son Nikki Singh (Akshay Oberoi), younger one Chintu (Ashish Verma), their bestie Rajvir (Arjun Fauzdar), Tehri’s wife and matriarch Karma Devi (Shalini Vatsa), and his brother Bhupinder Hooda (Aamir Bashir) are the other players in this bloody saga.
The plot swerves into quick-sand once Nikki bet of Rs 1 crore on Sehwag completing a century in a particular match comes unstuck. The plotting then goes haywire when Preeto is kidnapped, escapes and despite knowing the culprits behind the act, decides to call on them for help. After that it’s just about contriving to get characters into position so that the final culmination can match-up with the opening sequence.
Shanker Raman’s film focuses entirely on the one family and the people they come into contact with, as a result it appears to have no context other than the obvious reference in the title. Superb performances from the ensemble cast (Mukesh Chhabra’s casting is picture and note perfect), Vivek Shah’s heavily dark atmospheric cinematography and Shan Mohammed’s canny dissolves and cuts lend depth to the narrative while Naren Chadavarkar and Benedict Taylor’s plaintive musical intonations allows for a haunting tempo to envelope the nihilistic intent here. This is a chilling experience – definitely not for the faint hearted!
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