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Pataakha Review – Rustic Allegory

Pataakha (2018)

Movie Rating: 

Reader Rating: 
[Total: 3   Average: 2.7/5]

Directed By: Vishal Bhardwaj

Cast: Sanya Malhotra, Radhika Madan, Sunil Grover, Vijay Raaz, Saanand Verma

Language: Hindi

At first, they love to fight but, by the end, they fight to love, and between this changeover lies the beautiful arc called Pataakha. Pataakha or firecracker is based on Charan Singh Pathik’s short story titled Do Behnein. Written and directed by Vishal Bharadwaj, this is a movie every sibling has to watch.

Pataakha begins with two small girls abusing each other with expletives and made up names. Over the opening credits Champa “Badki” Kumari (Radhika Madan) and Genda “Chutki” Kumari (Sanya Malhotra) grow up and so does their hatred for each other. They fight over everything- from a humble beedi to dresses to anything in mutually like. The fight often becomes physical and when they are at it, they paint the village red. Their fight brings the village to a standstill and is a source of daily amusement. They are stopped only by their loving single father but they are at it again when their next door neighbor Dipper Naradmuni (Sunil Grover) incites them.

Their father bechara Bapu (Vijay Raaz), after having a soul searching session with dipper (and his debts) comes to the conclusion to marry one of them off to tharki Patel (Saanand Verma). A toss decides which girl and from then onward twists after twists result in them finding the sibling love.

Pataakha is set in a village of Rajasthan and Vishal Bharadwaj has captured every feel of the village life- from the dialect, the slang, clothes, animals, to the characters and their names. The script is predictable but the obvious is still good because of the characters and the acting. Dangal was about Fatima but here Sanya Malhotra comes of age. Mentored by Aamir Khan she has chosen her roles well and is a wonderful actor.

I went to watch the movie because of Vishal Bharadwaj but was blown over by Radhika Madan. She is some actor- everything from her walk, talk and attitude to mannerisms and expressions gave the rustic village girl feel. This could be the film that launches her career, its too early to comment but one can see her potential in this movie. Sunil Grover as the wily Naradmuni always watchful of the two girls and adding-ghee-to-the-fire is good and brings the necessary laughs in the movie. You feel for Vijay Raaz, a single parent with unruly kids, and he steals the thunder at the end. The husbands and Saanand Verma have also acted well, Saanand Verma’s expressions are hilarious.

Vishal Bharadwaj likes putting sly innuendos and political allegories in his movies; here too, the sisters with their immense hatred and constant fighting have been compared to India and Pakistan. Trump is mentioned, and the hapless dadi is said to be the USA. So that probably makes Dipper China and adds an interesting (though probably racist!) meaning to his name. And the reason given for the ever present animosity- their deep love just doesn’t stick with me. Corruption, superstition, inter caste marriage are given passing mentions and are casually woven into the story. What is commendable, is that both sisters are shown to be strong and ambitious. Their aspirations are not limited to getting married and bearing children- they have dreams of opening up a school and a dairy respectively- and are ready to work hard for them. The screenplay is repetitive and the expectation is built up to the zenith only to be fizzled out after the marriages. I felt that the short story was needlessly stretched. Since the dialect is local, it takes some time getting used to and some dialogues go simply over the head.

It is a one time watch and should be watched with your sibling. The music is fine and rustic. Watch it and share your rating above.

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