Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Amu… A Quest for Identity

Emotionally provocative and passionately made!

Kaju (Konkona Sensharma), a UCLA graduate is a young girl of Indian origin who is brought up in Los Angeles, USA. She returns to India to visit her maternal relatives in Delhi. Aware of the fact the she was adopted into a Bengali family at the age of three by Keya Roy (Brinda Karat) a social activist, Kaju basically aims to get in touch with her roots and intends to discover her birth place “the real India” through foreign lens. During this pursuit, Kaju comes across signs of hidden secrets related to her past and sets out to trace down her identity.

This critically acclaimed film focuses on the impact of1984 riots that triggered as a result of assassination of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, by her Sikh escorts. The film also throws light on the magnitude of political involvement in the massacre; leading to a complete urban-chaos where thousands of Sikhs were brutally killed and their families were ripped-off from their homes.

Amu is definitely a brave attempt by Shonali Bose considering the controversial nature of the content. The handling of the subject matter is intelligent. The riot scenes are neatly done with absolutely no enactment of blood shed and not a single weapon used. Shonali has sensibly kept it symbolic and has utilized just the mob, their shouts and their cries to depict riots, making it devastatingly effective. However the intertwining of the flashback sequences, including the riot scenes and Kaju’s déjà vu shots, with the present could have been better.  

Alongside the portrayal of a heartrending tale, Amu has its share of lighter moments; be it the scene where the girls share their “hep” way of life with Granny, or the one where the little boy in the slums dances on a Bollywood number or Govind bhai’s recital of the famous Gabbar Singh dialogues.

The film could have easily done away with Kabir’s character (Ankur Khanna). The only reason for its inclusion seemed to be unwrapping the political connects from Kaju’s troubled past. Well, there were better ways of achieving that. Nevertheless, Konkona’s exceptional performance makes up for that miss. In an attempt to do justice to her character, Konkona puts on a little American-ish accent in her dialogues; thankfully she does not over-do it and that helps in keeping it natural. Brinda Karat as a social activist and an adoptive mother looks dignified and beautiful; though not much of an actor, she manages to pull off her role well. Yashpal Sharma as Govind Bhai and Bharat Kapoor as the influential politician have also done a good job.

Originally made in English and dubbed in Hindi, this debut movie by Producer-Director Shonali was later squeezed into a novel with the same name by Shonali herself.

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