‘Kya Dilli, Kya Lahore’ directed by Vijay Raaz starring Vijay Raaz, Manu Rishi, Raj Zutshi and Vishwajeet Pradhan in the lead role . The film is the directorial debut of Vijay Raaz and produced by Karan Arora. The film revolves around Indo-Pak Partition. It is a poignant and human story contrary to the antagonist ones we hear in India and Pakistan. Itadvocates peace and is stoutly ‘anti-war’. The partition of India is the crux of the film. Here’s a film where all you see is just four faces – Manu Rishi (playing Samarth Pratap, a cook attached to an Indian army unit posted at the border), Vijay Raaz (Rehmat Ali, a Pakistani soldier), Rajendranath Zutshi (Barfi Singh, a postman working for the Indian army) and Vishwajeet Pradhan (a captain with the Pakistani Army). But the film leaves an impact.
Bollywood seems to be in an experimentation mode. Diverse themes, which were considered ‘risky propositions’ till some time back, are slowly finding their way on the big screen. Bollywood specifically has studied the dynamics of the complexity of the antagonistic relationship existent in many fabulous films from Deepa Mehta’s Earth to a more mainstream Gadar or Veer Zaara. How is this film any different from being in pile on? The film’s narrative is touching , but not tear jerking and that is where it stands tall over sappy tales on the issue. Many films have been made in the past that have dealt with the subject with great sensitivity (Deepa Mehta’s Earth, Govind Nahaliani’s TV series Tamas). There have also been films full of jingoism and melodrama.
There’s something about the film that reminds you of the Bosnian Oscar winner ‘No Man’s Land’, which was a poignant reminder of the futility of war, and the tragic waste of human lives. ‘Kya Dilli Kya Lahore’ had the potential to be as powerful, maybe more, because it is our story. So many people still remember Partition as if it was yesterday, and so many people have still have such strong familial connections on either side of the border.
Unlike the war films attempted earlier [BORDER, LOC KARGIL, LAKSHYA come to your mind instantly], KYA DILLI KYA LAHORE is not a war film, but a self-confessed India’s first ‘anti-war’ film. Also, the fact that Vijay Raaz has helmed the project makes it special. The film is a satire on the sensitive relations between India and Pakistan and focus on the emotional bonding between the cook belonging to the Indian army and a Pakistani soldier, both of whom are stationed at the Indo-Pak border. Partition, the most traumatic and harrowing chapter in the history of India, has always been the subject of numerous Bollywood films. From rapes, riots to mayhem that India-Pakistan partition, the most brutal upheavals of the 20th century lead to, the filmmakers have used virtually every aspect to recount its loss, pain and horror. If 2013 saw the release of Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’ .The India-Pakistan history is troublesome and has been documented multiple times in history, literature and cinema
The film starts with independence and partition footage. Vijay Raaz, who plays a Pakistani soldier Rahmat , lands up at the border. At the behest of his senior officer [played by Vishwajeet Pradhan], Raaz comes in search of a secret document that is the alleged route map of a tunnel planned by India. While searching it, he happens to encounter an Indian army’s cook Samarth [played by Manu Rishi].
As the film unfolds, we get to know the differences and similarities between two. Rehmat Ali is a Muslim who migrated from Delhi to Lahore during Partition while Samarth, a Hindu, has migrated from Lahore to Delhi. In the course of the film, audience is told of the humiliation Rehmat and Samarth are subjected to as they become ‘refugees’ in their new homelands. A little outpost on the newly formed India-Pakistan border is the site of the action in ‘Kya Dilli Kya Lahore. They embroiled in a bitter-sweet verbal-physical duel with an Indian soldier. In a film such this where the dialogue between two characters sustains and nurtures the under-nourished drama, it is acutely imperative that the two central performances and the dialogues are perfectly cooked, crisp crunchy and easily digestible.
The first half of the film is actually a conversation between Raaz and Rishi, both of whom brag about the grass being greener on their side. Due to a sudden turn of events, Raaz, who initially overpowers Rishi and takes him to his seniors, is now at the gun point of Indian Army’s postman [played by Raj Zutshi]. Zutshi, in an attempt to become an army officer, calls his senior officer and claims to have captured a Pakistani soldier [Raaz] and a traitor [Rishi] from the Indian army. Why does Zutshi call Rishi a traitor and what happens to the duo in the end forms rest of the film’s story.
Of the cast, Vijay Raaz seems to get carried away with his role in this film, despite his being an author backed role. He is really convincing in the emotional scenes. But it’s actually Manu Rishi who leaves an impact. Even though his dialogues are mostly in Punjabi-Hindi, his attire of an army cook and the shedding of his inhibitions while handling a gun come across very smoothly. He really looks the part. Raj Zutshi and Vishwajeet Pradhan do their bit in carrying the film forward.
Manu Rishi has not only written the dialogues, he has also played one of the two protagonists, the Indian soldier, if you must know. And what a fine job Manu has done in both the departments. The verbal sparring between the two soldiers could have easily lapsed into cheap name-calling between the two sides. Eschewing every provocation to get nasty, the dialogues take digs at India-Pakistan differences without losing their basic sense of humour.
Thee could be no better person than veteran Gulzar, to present this film and many of the dialogues are lovely. . It is static, and goes around in a loop. There is far too much talking that goes on between the two foes-turned-friends, and the background music is used far too much. There’s one little stretch where there is complete silence, and that’s when we feel the pain of the two men most intensely. But then they start jabbering and the mood dissipates. He has been a mentor, has also penned its lyrics, although not all the songs feature in the film. The film’s music doesn’t leave much of an impact. As far as the film’s locations are concerned, the film has been creatively shot at Fiji. Full marks to the art director, who recreated the Wagah border in Fiji, although there are places wherein the locations starts looking monotonous/stereotyped.
In the end ‘Kya Dilli Kya Lahore’ Portrays Quite an emphatic picture of how war and hostitlity does’nt benefit anyone, Human being pitted against each other, brainwashed by the nationalistic sentiments are after all people facing similar dilemmas and issues. May be a slow film but its climax will certainly touch you. Its poetic optimism will stay with you for long. But on the whole it is a one time watch mainly for its off beat story line and for Gulzur’s poetry.