Directors Pranav Kumar Singh and Jitentra Tiwari’s political drama Shorgul, starring Jimmy Shergill, HitenTejwani, Suha Gezen, Ashutosh Rana, Narendra Jha, Anirudh Dave and Sanjay Suri, is loosely based on the Muzaffarnagar riots that had taken place in Uttar Pradesh in 2013. The movie has a weak script with Rana and Shergill doing justice to it, with some great acting. The makers of the movie have attempted to show the divisional vote bank politics that prevails in the state of Uttar Pradesh but have failed miserably.
The plot goes something like this: an innocent friendship between a Hindu boy, Raghu (Aniruddh Dave) and a Muslim girl Zainab (Suha Gezen) becomes fuel for the local politicians to raise an issue. Zainab and Raghu grow up as friends. He falls in love with her but she is unaware of his feelings. When her fiancé Saleem (HitenTejwani) discovers the truth, it leads to tension between all parties involved and ultimately, an unplanned act of violence is used by Ranjeet Om (Shergill) to incite riots in the town.
The movie gained interest among target audience because of its story line that revolved around the Muzaffarnagar riots, as it was one of the worst communal violence that the country has witnessed in recent times. The writers have failed to stand up to the expectations of the audience and seem to have stretched their imagination too far. The movie is full of erratic jumps and the story peg gets lost somewhere in this hullabaloo.
The viewers of the movie from Uttar Pradesh who would have knowledge about the riots that occurred in Muzaffarnagar and are looking for an alternate perspective that the cinematic medium might offer would be highly disappointed as the movie fails to pull our sensitive chords.
Although Muzaffarnagar is not mentioned anywhere in Shorgul, the allusions are unmistakably clear which explains media reports which have been doing rounds saying how BJP MLA Sangeet Som has been raising ruckus about the film. It’s interesting to connect the dots between reel and real characters: Ranjeet Om’s character is inspired by Sangeet Som, Alam Khan’s character by Azam Khan and Chief Minister Mithilesh seems to be based on AkhileshYadav. But it fails to make any impact because of the flat nature of the script. The point is, the film’s story is believable but its execution, quite poor.
Gezen’ saccharine-laden track drowning an excellent turn by Chaudhary (Rana), who plays Raghu’s father, and a pacifist whose chief function is to show up the dangerous opportunism of both Hindu (Jimmy Shergill) and Muslim (Narendra Jha) leaders.He is a respected local leader who is constantly at loggerheads with Om and is caught in the crossfire along with the youngsters. ???
Despite all this, and the fact that the film touches upon how tenuous life can be, Shorgul is reduced to a clichéd melodrama with scene after scene of gory clashes between the sword-wielding Musaalmans and trishul-dhaari Hindus.
The film — co-directed by Tiwari with P. Singh — is noisy, lacks finesse and depth, and the political machinations are diluted to irritating effect by too many loud songs and problematic production quality.
At the centre of it all is an actress so uncharismatic playing Zainab, that it is hard to understand why two men — not one, but two — are so smitten by her as to be willing to give up their lives for her. Newcomer Suha Gezen lacks a screen presence. Making things worse is the director duo’s evident fixation with what they consider her immense beauty. As a result, she is given a lingering introductory shot and the camera gazes lovingly at her throughout.
It does not help Gezen’s case that Zainab’s suitors are played by TV stars Anirudh Dave and HitenTaiwan churning out average performances. Dave does twice resort to screaming to convey a burst of temper but there is reason to forgive him that folly in the scene in which Raghu acknowledges his feelings for his lady friend. At many scence over act can be pointed out by the audience.
There is also some pleasure to be derived from the performances of Sheirgill, Rana and Jha. All three manage to avoid sounding bombastic for a considerable part of the film, despite the decibel levels that surround them (not counting a verbal explosion by Rana in his final scene).
Ashutosh Rana is known to be a brilliant actor. He puts up a great act as Chaudhary but unfortunately, the makers do not want you to see him beyond his ‘moustache’ that is jarringly irritating.
Closing the brackets on the mediocrity is a ridiculous video of a wailing, weeping Zainab/Gezen filmed underwater and running alongside the closing credits, possibly to convey some deep philosophical point. It is unwittingly funny.
Between the two ends, we get an array of junior artistes with limited talent, a scar on Eijaz Khan’s neck that proves the prosthetic make-up department lacked funds. The war of words and ideologies between Shergill will keep on stopping you from leaving the cinema hall.
So long story short, Shorgul can be rightly called a barren Bollywood melodrama.