Movie: 31st October
Director: Shivaji Lotan Patil
Cast: Vir Das, Soha Ai Khan
Genre: Historic representation
1984 is a black year for the Sikh community. As every carnage pleads an excuse of a fatal circumstance, 1984 pogrom was the aftermath of Indira Gandhi’s assassination. I cringe when I say aftermath as no act of violence on innocents can find shelter as an aftermath. Movie 31st October is a recreation of the night when the riots began and brought the entire city to a standstill.
Devinder Singh (Vir Das) is an official with DESU. He lives in West Delhi’s Tilank Nagar with his 2 school going sons, a year old daughter and wife Tajinder Singh (Soha Ali khan). A regular week-day turns into a nightmare as the news of Indira Gandhi’s assassination by her Sikh body guards grips the city. Blood thirsty hounds sniff through the streets on a ok out of for Sikh families. The orders are clear- revenge for Indira Gandhi’s death. With no one to help him, will Devinder safe his family from the madness running wild in the city or will be remain behind as a victim of revenge for an incident he did not have a role to play in?
1984 Sikh riots is replay of the partition riots that spewed blood on the face of India and the reality it took 32 years and several censorships for a movie to be made on this incident is a painful reminder of how eager we are to blink through the night of 31st October 1984 while Indira Gandhi’s blood stained saree stands vindicated on the glass display of Indira Gandhi memorial museum – a symbol of political tyranny while the common man bows under the weight of the celebrated democracy.
So despite my happiness that movie on the riots saw light in the Indian cinema, as a critic Iam terribly disappointed at its quality and texture. It runs dry from the very first scene itself which fails to create a Delhi in the 1980’s. The moment lower middle class woman, Tejinder, keeps down the receiver with an ‘Okay’, you realise that the script is beginning to rip apart at all the wrong places. Vir Das smiles sheepishly every 5 minutes into the beginning of the movie and looks lost in the setting. Soha Ali Khan barely has a role to play with other than stay weepy eyes all through the movie. The script though succeeds to recreate the chaos of the night of the riot, the dialogues, storyline and the direction barely keep you connected with the film. The depth a carnage can only be lived through its multiple telling, and as the story moves through the Tejinder’s story, rest of storylines are shaky and too brief to leave an impact.
I applaud the movie for its historical relevance but as a work of fiction, it fails to create an impact.
My verdict: **