Thursday, October 09, 2008

‘Ramchand Pakistani’: Borders on sensitivity

-By Swetha Amit
Sometimes an innocent stray can cause one to pay a heavy price leaving them stranded on crossroads between life and death. Often we are told about not crossing our limits in several instances. Yet many do either deliberately or unknowingly not realizing at what cost the consequences come hurling at us like furious paced winds of a sandstorm.

Little did the lad realize that his sulky stance of strolling far from home would result him and his father being imprisoned for six years. Were they used as mere pawns for the occurrence of terror at the warring borders? Or was it the case of their ‘untouchable’ selves that led to their shabby treatment?

Ramchand Pakistani is a film that narrates a story of one such Dalit family and the subtle appalling conditions that they are faced with.

Amidst the terrains on the border in Pakistan resides the 7 year old Ramchand (Syed Fazal Hussain) with his father Shankar (Rashid Farooqui) and mother (Nandita Das). Poverty stricken and famished they work hard to make ends meet and strive in isolation. It was that one hot afternoon search for his wandering son which lands him in the clutches of the security and being accused as a spy. Their innocent pleas fall on deaf ears as manhandling reaches its severity in the cold cells of prison. Their tryst with other prisoners and their appalling plight of their six year journey yearning for freedom forms rest of the narrative. On a parallel basis is a woman who lives with hope of her husband and son returning home safely. And also the political tension between neighboring states which eclipses the lives of the faultless beings.

With its simplicity and sensitivity, the film manages to portray several aspects at the same time. The relationship between the father and son which consists of mutual sympathy and blame games for their pitiable conditions. Accusing Ramchand for their imprisonment, Shankar manages to adopt a fierce protective stance towards his little one. Even going to an extent of pummeling his fellow jailers when the latter casually offers to cigarette to the seven year old.

The inexplicable rapport between the female warden and Ramchand is portrayed in a poignant manner. From a shaky beginning where she labels him an untouchable, it blossoms into an inseparable bond. It almost seems that the latter saw streaks of his mother with whom he was forcibly estranged from.

It also showcases the fact as to how simple folks were merely used as pawns in the great battle of two turbulent nations. Entwined in an emotional turmoil, it leaves them wondering if their plight was an act of fate or faith. This is especially when a ray of hope seeps in the first half announcing them of their release only to be thrown back into the jaws of jail yet again. The cynicism and indifference adopted is portrayed in the scene where a particular inmate mentions the lack of ‘concern’ exhibited by Shankar on whether his name would be called out. This is just after the two countries agree to release their respective prisoners from their territories.
The scene where Ramchand’s name is called out without being followed by Shankar’s arouses mixed feelings of indignation and helplessness in the former. An angry protest of being separated from his father is convincingly portrayed in the scene where he questions the inspector with admirable boldness. Unsure of his mother’s existence and being separated from her at the start was unbearable enough not to be met with estrangement with his father as well.

Touching and stirring, the film is well directed by Mehreen Jabbar. The performances seem like the characters are for real and occasionally causing the viewers to go moist eyed.

Watching such hard hitting realities at times can make one thankful and horrified at the same time. Humanity remains absent even before proving those caught guilty. Those who are burdened with problems are only saddled with more due to the tumultuous nature of two nationalities. Thankful for those who aren’t ‘bordered’ at the zone of ‘insecurity’ ironically where there is a border security force. Showing the other side to a troubled situation, Ramchand Pakistani nevertheless manages to touch the audience where it matters the most. While the destination may depict a rosy picture, the journey showcases nothing but a series of thorns, each which pricks ones pride even when he is so called an ‘untouchable.’ It’s a sorrowful plight and yet the truth which is unseeingly bitter.
Written for



Blogger Whirlwind said...

Comments on MSN:

sharmishtha - kolkata on 10/9/2008 12:58:29 PM
marvellous interpretation of the movie. i too agree with your point of views.

9:32 AM  
Blogger Whirlwind said...

G.K.Desai - Mumbai on 10/9/2008 10:10:57 PM

11:00 AM  

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