The 'Khap' film director Ajai Sinha says that his film condemns honour killings and not Khap Panchayats even as no Haryana Minister wants to watch it and court controversy. I say the only thing this film condemns is good cinema and our sensibilities. The ministers are a cunning lot. By not watching this film they are doing themselves a huge favour.
The film as its name suggests revolves around the workings of the Khap - communities in villages that meat out barbaric punishments to young lovers who get married against the wishes of their parents and customs of their society. These young couples are killed in the name of honour, family prestige and tradition.
In Sajod village in Haryana lives the Khap head Omkar Chaudhry (Om Puri) who fervently follows and propagates the policy of honor killings. His own son Madhur Chaudhry (Mohnish Behl) deserts him and settles down in Delhi. He wants to bring up his daughter Ria (Uvika Chaudhry) far away from the shadow of such devilish practices. However fate has a different plan. Ria and her family get sucked into the same dangerous muddle of honor killings that they so desperately wanted to avoid.
Fate has a different plan for us too and it is equally cruel. Far from being a social commentary about savage practices the film is a drab watch that sadly trivializes the very cause it wants to highlight and address. So what do you prefer counting, the number of popcorns in the box or playing Angry Birds on your cell? After all, the lackluster screenplay, shoddy acting and flimsy direction leave us with plenty of time to pursue such recreational activities if we happen to inflict ourselves with the pain of watching this film.
The film cries out for good direction. Although the story is average, a good director could definitely have churned out a more palatable dish. Remember the incredulous way college life was depicted in our Bollywood films of the 90's? For the longest time college was a place that housed atrociously dressed boys and girls singing and dancing away to glory. After a long time we witness something similar. Sprightly and cocky youngsters for no rhyme or reason with teachers and their syllabus being conspicuous by their absence!!
There are a number of things in the film that can deviate us from our Buddha-hood and make us violently demand our money back:
1.The lead pair Uvika and debutant Sarrtaj Gill top the list. They are painful to watch. No acting skills to help them sail through and the weak story line isn't the perfect lifeguard.
2. The songs! Leave aside their musical worth which is hardly anything to write home about. The songs have a tradition of popping up at the most inappropriate times making our whole film- watching experience nightmarish.
3. Dull script and weak character sketches. It is a human drama where in we are not once made to feel the angst of the characters. It seems more akin to an amateurish attempt at making a documentary than a full fledged film! How can there be mourning in one scene and love songs in the next? Why does a son who is so angry with his father suddenly decide to forgive and forget? How does a man totally entrenched in his customs decide to switch sides? No convincing answers are given and we are totally lost.
4. Poor direction. The urgency that should accompany such an intense film, the degree of empathy we should feel with the characters on screen, there tussles ,pressures and reasons that make them take such drastic steps are all missing. The film promised to be a hard hitting attempt to throw more light on this kind of savage practice, elicit the cause and throw up poignant questions and some not so dramatic solutions. What it does is any ones guess - to put it mildly they just mess it up. The film turns out to be a saga of lovers against the world thereby trivializing the important issue of honor killing.
5. Complete wastage of good actors like Om Puri, Mohnish Behl, Govind Namdev and Manoj Pahwa. The latter has been seen in a whole new avatar playing Sukhiram â€“ quite commendable given the shortage of armour at his disposal.
Four days before release, "Khap - A Story of Honour Killing", faced the ire of village heads in Haryana. Post its release it is bound to be on not so cordial terms with us cine goers who will go for the film thinking it will make some thunder but come out feeling totally stupid.Be warned and keep a good arms distance away from this film. A poor film that you should watch only if you are desperate!