"Shaurya - Courage to make right... Right" , a movie from the director of "Kuch Meetha Ho Jaye", definitely did not raise any expectations from my side when I first saw the promo, hence it definitely outlives the expectations I carried in the movie hall. The movie is about "Shaurya", about valor and its interpretation.
The issue What is right? Who decides it? How can we classify people? Who draws the line that says you are different than what I am? What should happen to people who stand by and support things that they consider right? Everyone has a viewpoint but how right is someone's right that makes some one else bleed hatred? The story had a premise that takes you through these and many such issues within the backdrop of Army affairs. The screenplay talks about power and the corruption of character it brings along, It talks of friendship and the space to have opposite views within it. It talks of duties and the courage to do what is right.
Joydeep Sarkar, Samar Khan and Aparna Malhotra come up with a story that has a lot to say. But the problem is movies are a visual medium, you can't easily decode what a person is thinking by looking at his face, you cannot be very obvious in posing the questions that you want to pose through your story, and that is where the writers get the film wrong. A story needs to be backed by an equally strong screenplay, which in my thoughts was not the strength of this movie. The unfolding of events within the film are a little too slow, a little too straight, and a little too obviously done.
The trial is fought by two best friends, who have two different viewpoints in the way they tackle life. Major Siddhant Choudhary (Rahul Bose) portrays the defense lawyer, who is a very happy-go-lucky person with the least interest in fighting the case. Major Akaash Kapoor (Javed Jaafri) portrays a serious army lawyer and the best friend of Siddhant. The trial takes them to the tense and disturbed valleys of LOC and to Srinagar. The story revolves around Siddhant, who matures as a person during the trial as he converts himself in to an individual who is trying to uncover the truth behind the entire tragic episode no matter the consequences.
Brigadier Rudra Pratap Singh (Kay Kay Menon) plays nemesis to Siddhant. Pratap is a fearless, arrogant, confident, intimidating army officer, who knows what he is doing and has a judgemental view on the communal issues. He is a Goliath to be fought and our David, Sidhhant steps up to the challenge.
Every confrontation that Siddhant has with Pratap, brings a humiliation which makes him tougher. He fights with himself and his nemesis to unearth the truth, helped by Kavya (Minisha Lamba), a journalist whom he starts falling for, and Kavya's assistant Subhendu. The story revolves around getting Javed to speak for himself, knowing how the way he has been for all the past years from his mother (Seema Biswas), knowing how the person he killed was from his wife (Amrita Rao) are all done in a cliched and not so inspiring fashion. The movie ends with an emotional outburst from Pratap that gets him caught.
First things first, I think the true superlative performance for the movie comes from Kay Kay Menon. He lifts the movie and his character to a different level. His is the best-etched character and he plays it with a great finesse. Even in a rather unbelievable climax, he pulls of the scene with his sheer brilliance. It is one of the finest pieces that we have got from the actor.
Rahul Bose is good and the role fits him well. You can see that with every passing movie, he is becoming a more mature actor. Javed Jaffri does his role fine but the character did not have many shades to it. Minisha Lamba, Seema Biswas, Amrita Rao, the ladies who look like unnecessary details of the movie perform their part honestly and if they had not acted their parts well, it would have become sore to our eyes. Deepak Dobriyal, with little dialogues and a small but important role nevertheless shines.
The music (by Adnan Sami) of the movie is just about OK. "Koi Arzoo..." is the only hummable song of the lot. The point of view of the writers is very well recited in Javed Akhtar's poem by Shahrukh Khan on the album. It reminds me of another classic from Javed Saab "Mere dushman, Mere Bhai Mere Humsaye...". Javed saab too sounds repetitive in other songs.
The cinematography by Carlos Catalan is one of the best parts of the movie. He shows the fear of the valley and beauty of it both with great flair. Dialogues are beautiful in parts, especially the ones given to Kay Kay, which he brings to life beautifully.
Now we come to the culprits that made this movie less than it could have been. The first one that I can think of is the editing by Sanjeeb Datta. The movie could have easily been trimmed by half an hour. It gets so slow at times that you just want to get a nap in between. Then lastly and most importantly, all the responsibility for the goods and bad of a film goes to its director. Of course, Samar Khan has made a film which is a lot better than his previous one, but he still makes the disastrous mistakes of the movie not being as good as such a topic could have made it. Firstly, the story could have unfolded with more twists and turns. Secondly, he spends a lot of time, developing each character, which is fine in a way, but then he rushes them into an unbelievable climax. A character that is so intelligent and shrewd just lets himself fall, in the emotional surge. If not for the wonderful acting by Kay Kay Menon, there would have been more bricks thrown towards director Samar Khan's way. Overall, the movie has a message that should be heard and a director who quite obviously needs to improve.