This is the age of biopics and films based on real-life incidents, here comes another one. After the feisty portrayal of Mary Kom on screen, director Omung Kumar tells the story of Sarabjit played by Randeep Hooda, a farmer from Punjab who accidentally crossed over to Pakistan in a drunken state only to find himself arrested and accused of being an Indian spy. Sarabjit spent years in jail (till his death in 2013) It is the 23-year-old journey of his sister, Dalbir Kaur, played by Aishwarya Rai, depicting her trials and tribulations in the course of her endeavour to bring back, from Pakistan, her brother, a farmer from Punjab’s Bhikhiwind, arrested in Pakistan for crossing the border on August 28, 1990 and is convicted for a series of bomb blasts and on charges of terrorism.
Director Omang Kumar who had earlier delivered “Mary Kom”, has handled the film fairly adroitly. Scripted in a non-linear fashion, the film starts off on an uneven note and gradually as the narration progresses, it settles on an even keel to unravel the compelling drama. Randeep Hooda as Sarbjit steals the show. His transition, physically and mentally from a happy-go-lucky man to an anguished imprisoned soul, is amazing. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan as Dalbir Kaur puts her heart and soul into her character. She delivers a robust performance and evokes sympathy, not merely on the strength of her performance, but because of the powerful character she depicts. Richa Chadda, in a fairly restrained manner, manages to make her presence felt as Sarbjit’s wife Sukhpreet, whom he fondly called “Sukhia. So does Darshan Kumaar as Owais Sheikh, Sarbjit’s lawyer in Pakistan.
With excellent production value, the film is well-mounted. The cinematography by Kiran Deohans is steady and remarkable. With brilliant lighting, his frames are atmospheric. With his wide-angle lenses and tight close-ups, he brilliantly captures the claustrophobic space and the fine nuances of Randeep’s haunting performance. The sets are realistic and transition of the colour palette, is evident in the costumes of the ladies, which from bright colourful clothes gradually turn into muted hues. The songs mesh seamlessly into the narration and the background score effectively heightens the viewing experience. The film is evenly paced with a few lengthy and unwarranted scenes but overall, Sarbjit Aitwal’s story is worth a watch, as it touches the right emotional chord and shares a story of determination with the world.