Movie Review: Sikandar


Cast: Parzaan Dastur, Ayesha Kapoor, R Madhavan, Sanjay Suri, Arunoday Singh

Director: Piyush Jha

Rating: 2 Stars

Films on Kashmir hold out an immediate connect. Unsurpassable beauty, turbulent histories, unresolved issues-- all make for irresistible cinema. The strength of the beautifully shot `Sikandar' is that it travels right into the heart of the troubled valley, and tells us straight-up that airbrushed pictures of the placid Dal Lake are an illusion. The weakness lies in the laxity that overlays the film, preventing it from reaching its full explosive potential.

Fourteen-year-old Sikandar ( Parzaan) stumbles upon a gun on his way to school one day. And that changes his life, much to the dismay of his pretty friend Nasreen ( Ayesha). His new acquisition, which he stashes in his bag, leads him into a vortex of conspiracy and danger. Zeroing in on him are a group of school bullies, an army captain ( R Madhavan), a suspiciously mild Kashmiri leader ( Sanjay), a gun-toting militant ( Arunoday) : the more Sikandar struggles to get away, the more he gets mired.

Just like Santosh Sivan's `Taahan', here too a young boy becomes the face of the conflict ; here too the inevitable loss of innocence becomes a strong hook. From the little boy who won our hearts in `Kuch Kuch Hota Hai', Parzaan has grown into a winsome teen. His boyish pre-occupations with football, and learning how to be friends with girls, all ring true. Not so Ayesha's ( seen in `Black' before this) unsmiling young lady : the reason why she is so closed-in is revealed right in the end, but by that time, she comes off more expressionless than anything else. And the sinister tones are laid in more by the background score, than by the interactions of the characters.

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