Omung Kumar's Sarbjit is a film trapped in no man's land. Based on a newsy real-life story, it takes cavalier liberties with reality. The result is a disappointment of monumental proportions. Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan is woefully miscast as the dogged sister of the titular character. Randeep Hooda is an exceptionally gifted actor and has clearly put in a lot of effort to get into the skin of the character. But he is let down by the creative choices that the writer (Utkarshini Vashishth) and the director make on his behalf. Watch it only if you are an Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan fan no matter what.
Applause is due for Aishwarya Rai Bachchan who plays the struggling Dalbir. But, in the same breath, the 42-year-old actor doesn’t manage to bring alive the character. Her lip-twisting, chest-thumping and shouting does not help either. Instead, the melodrama alienates us from an otherwise evocative character. It’s a tough movie to get right, and Oomung should be lauded for choosing the story and for picking a star to get the story out to wider audience (like he did with Mary Kom). But, Oomung fails to deliver a moving, poignant film and instead leaves us with a load of melodrama.
Sarbjit is an irresponsibly sloppy film, a film so focused on artless emotional manipulation and trying to make the audience weep, that it trivialises an important true-life story. The director tries too hard to get things to flow, starting with much cross-cutting only to end up with a highly linear and disjointed narrative with ill-suited songs. There is earnestness, however — even in Rai’s performance — but this is not an effective or emotional film. It is, in fact, the 80s Doordarshan version of Bajrangi Bhaijaan.
Director Omung Kumar plays it woefully safe and completely avoids treading on political toes except for a token representation now and then. Of course, the opportunity to squeeze in a jingoistic jab is always welcome. Barring superficial interactions, the viewer seldom gets an effective picture of the extent of endeavor and elbow-nudging, Dalbir must have engaged in. What one does hear is a screechy Aishwarya Rai Bachchan screaming till she’s unconvincingly overtaken the clamor of fake crowds gathered around her. Needless to say, Omung Kumar is no Gulzar. His preoccupation at milking a tragedy not only clouds his judgment but reveals a complete lack of one. What remains is so affected and superficial, it’s all a sham. And a shame.
A real-life tale which is inherently so full of drama and heart-break has no need to be artificially revved up. But mainstream Bollywood doesn’t know any other way to do things. ‘Sarabjit’ should have been called ‘Dalbir’, because it is Aishwarya doing all the heavy-lifting, but to distressing little impact. Randeep Hooda nails the look and the accent, letting neither overpower him, and is the only reason to sit through this sagging saga.
SARBJIT is a landmark film with great performances and a superbly told narrative. The entertainment quotient is missing which is compensated by the phenomenal manner in which the story is told. At the box office, it will be appreciated by matured audience.
Sarbjit is Randeep Hooda's triumph. Randeep Hooda brings Sarbjit to life with utter sweetness - ever-smiling, no bitterness mars Sarbjit's face. Aishwarya presents Dalbir, fraying, yet growing under strain. Sarbjit breaks your heart - but in contrast to India-Pak fantasies like 'Gadar', it bears no blame. It makes you cherish your loved ones - and appreciate others too. Sarbjit makes a point. Humans come and go. Humanity survives.