I´ve always been a major fan of the talented Govind Nihlani despite the fact that I haven’t seen many of his films. Vijeta is one movie I was dying to see for a long time, and it has not disappointed me one bit. The movie truly stood the test of time prior to its release and till this day remains an absorbing piece of drama and a classic one at that!
The classic revolves around Nihal Singh (Shashi Kapoor), a film producer who lost most of his family in the partition; he now lives with his mother and son. He moves to Delhi and remarries a Maharashtrian girl, Neelima (Rekha). After some time his son Angad Singh (Kunal Kapoor), who was in Panchgini studying, comes home leaving his studies half way behind.
This isn't the first time he has done this. Angad is a disturbed boy who has a grudge against his father because of an extra-marital affair he had during his marriage to Neelima. He is a confused teenager with many problems, the biggest being that he doesn't know what to do with his life and has been turning towards his suicidal thoughts.
That’s when his mama (Om Puri) gives him an introduction to the army. His mama felt that would be the right thing since that was a job that needs courage, discipline and gains respect. Angad is impressed by the idea and decides to join the army as a fighter pilot much to the disappointment of his father. This causes a further rift between the father and son and brings Angad closer to his mom. The rest of the movie focuses on Angad’s training, the fears and problems he faces, the friends he make, how he gets closer to his father how he brings his family back together and how he manages when the war finally breaks out!
The film enhanced by its excellently emotional story, is complimented by its taut screenplay and dialogues by P.T Satyadev Dubey. The film as a drama not once gets boring. The story maintains an excellent pace right throughout the movie. Dialogues are also superb and match the characters perfectly. Each and every character in the movie is flawlessly etched out and the actors play their roles to the bill.
The entire cast of the film have filled it with tight A grade performances. Shashi Kapoor surprises me with a very mature and complex performance as Nihaal. He plays a character with many flaws and brings the flaws to the screen in a very subtle yet immaculate manner.
Considering that I have never seen Shashi Kapoor act much apart from those Bachchan starrers I would say this is the best performance I have seen from Mr. Kapoor in my life. Rekha is Rekha. She is an actress who I have always had respect for and some of my favorite performances from female actresses are from her. I am glad she is still showing her worth as an actress and had a successful year a few years ago with Lajja and Zubeeida, which were both top-notch performances. Here as Neelima - a subdued and silent housewife who speaks out every now and then she is electric. Definitely ranks as one of her better performances in her career.
Kunal Kapoor gives a perfect performance as Angad Singh. He looks every inch the character he plays as a Sikh Sardar and given the fact he has an author backed and complex role he does not disappoint one bit. Despite such a talented cast he does not get over shadowed at all and manages to hold his own easily. It’s a pity he isn't in the acting arena anymore, he is much more talented than his brother Karan Kapoor (who was in Sultanant with Dharmendra and Sunny Deol). Supriya Patthak is nice in her short role. The film doesn't have any songs hence the narrative of the movie is very well paced and there isn’t any running around the trees to hinder the movie’s pace. The background score by
Ajit Varman matches the films atmosphere perfectly.
Technically the film is handled appropriately. The aspect that stands out is the cinematography by Govind Nihlani himself and it is superb. All the sequences in the second half involving the fighter planes and their maneuvers and the sequences showing all the planes flying off together have been magically captured.
Direction wise Govind Nihlani is amazing. Earlier I have seen his Drohkaal and Thakshak, both of which I also loved immensely. He has his command over the direction right from the word go and keeps the viewer watching from the start of the movie. From the introduction of the movie, which shows Shashi Kapoor having nightmares about losing his son in the war as he dies in the sand and flashbacks from back in Lahore when he comes home and his entire family is slashed, his talent is evident.
As was the case with I, the film in the beginning with the starting images leave the viewer expecting an intense war movie or a partition movie, but what you get is an interesting character drama with the army as a backdrop but not the central theme. Nihlani focuses more on his characters and characterizations for which he deserves full marks for doing quite successfully.
Vijeta clearly falls into the “semi-art” “semi-commercial” film category from the eighties. The film is a nearly flawless character based drama with some superlative performances, tight knit story and excellent direction. A definite must-see.