Pataakha movie: Review, Cast, Director

Film: Pataakha

Cast: Sanya Malhotra, Radhika Madan, Varun Grover, Vijay Raaz, Namit Das, Abhishek Duhaan, Saanand Verma

Director: Vishal Bharadwaj

Rating: * * ½

Charan Singh Pathik’s short story Do Behnein forms the basis for this regurgitating aggro spiel that never tires away from its central conceit. A narrative that goes to great lengths to keep the two siblings at war with each other has little else to say other than foist an analogy relating to the historic contretemps’ between India and Pakistan. That might have worked if the film was about two families, but with just two trivially enraged individuals juxtaposed against each other, aiming to gain ascendancy in a war that has little reason to exist other than jealousy and envy – just amounts to a concept that doesn’t gain any traction from the protracted cat-fight that rages on even post marriage and children.

Located somewhere in rural Rajasthan, two sisters Badki Champa (Radhika Madan) and Chutki Genda (Sanya Malhotra) keep their antagonism towards each other on the boil, with unfailing regularity – becoming a ‘Tamasha’ for the  Naarad muni ‘Dipper’ (Varun Grover), the villagers at large and a headache for their hapless, financially constrained, widowed Father, Bapu (Vijay Raaz). It’s fun to watch them going at each other for a brief while, but thereafter their protracted antipathy begins to pall and even though they live in the same house post marriage, their reasons for continuing their fights appears contrived and unbecoming.

While the women here are shown as feisty and fiery, the men (including the respective husbands and the father) appear to have little say – even though this set-up is supposed to be in a predominantly patriarchal community. This is by no means a satire – it’s merely a self-conscious comedy attempting to be more. Vishal Bharadwaj appears to have given up on narrative complexities, preferring to wage a meaningless war in order to put his point of the fruitlessness of enmity, across.

There’s nothing subtle or intelligent about the posturing prevalent here. The palliative attempt to offer a reconciliation between the two sisters also appears simplistic and unviable. The local dialect-heavy lingo and the prurient animosity on display leave you largely distended. Music by Bhardwaj and Cinematography by Ranjan Palit lend adequate rusticity to the endeavour. The characters though appear driven by sibling rivalry and therefore have little growth beyond the tokenism of respective disparate ambitions to give them depth. This sort of writing is better suited to Television dramas- cinemas need a much stronger framework to keep the pot boiling. It’s really the viscerally rousing performances that keep you invested here.

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