`Heroes` inspires, moves beyond cliches (IANS)
By Subhash K. Jha
Not since Rakeysh Mehra`s Rang De
Basanti have we seen a film so inspiring. Portions of Heroes
are pure genius, sparkling with the unshed tears of a mother whose child dies
before she can hold it in her arms and nurture it.
Here`s a piece of cinema that we need to applaud for its idealism and absolute absence of cynicism in telling a story that invites the conscience to cry for a country and global society that can`t think beyond its own nose.
But wait. Heroes is not a flag-waving exercise propagating the join-the-army message.
Yes, to begin with, the film does put that message forward. But soon enough you journey across the toughest Indian terrain of intense warmth and acute cold in pursuit of a dream that transcends everyday existence. And you realise Heroes is about bereavement and how to cope with it without getting cynical about subjects like patriotism.
To a wife in Punjab who copes with a child and her dead soldier husband`s parents on her own, or a wheel-chaired soldier who has lost his kid brother to war, or to an ageing couple coping with the death of their only son to war, does it matter if the country needs to be protected from outside aggression?
The answer to the question is not provided in rhetoric and sermons but in the course of the vivid journey that takes our two narrators Sohail Khan and Vatsal Seth to the heart of the country.
Heroes is shot in the hearts of characters who are wounded by war without going to the battlefront.
This isn`t the first film about the war bereaved coping with their loss. At times Heroes is redolent of J.P. Dutta`s Border and LOC Kargil - homesick soldiers writing lovelorn letters, the battery of war vehicles winding their way through mountainous terrain and soldiers coming home in coffins.
We`ve seen it all before. But director Samir Karnik succeeds in taking the theme of patriotism and soldierly duties far beyond the clichés.
Some interludes woven into the multitude of grieving characters` lives are heart rending. The look in Preity`s eyes when she holds her dead husband`s letter in her trembling hands, or much later when our two narrators travel in a vehicle loaded with coffins of war martyrs, or Mithun Chakraborty`s breakdown before his dead son`s picture.
Heroes connects with us in ways that are emotional and spiritual. Often while you watch the characters live through a devastating loss, you feel the screenwriter, dialogue writer and director breathe a vigorous life into the scenes.
All three segments of bereavement and reconciliation are designed with a great deal of emotional honesty and clamped intensity. If one has to pick a favourite, it would have to be where Vatsal-Sohail meet Preity, who plays the brave Punjabi war widow.
Disappearing into herself to emerge with a character who is dignified in her tragedy, Preity gives the film`s best performance.
Effortlessly and persuasively, Karnik goes from pure emotionalism to unstoppered populism. Watch Sunny Deol`s fight in the pub where he swings into full-fledged action from a wheelchair. It is truly a paisa-vasool sequence.
Besides Preity, Sunny, Mithun Chakbraborty, child actor Dwij Yadav and Sohail Khan leave the strongest impression. Vatsal`s rawness goes well with his spoilt-rich-coming-of-age character.
The two cinematogaphers - Binod Pradhan and Gopal Shah - create stirring echoes of spiritual and emotional majesty without letting the colour schemes become over-representational.
On the minus side, the songs and dances are largely over-stated and obtrusive. Sohail and Vatsal`s striptease with Riya Sen and Amrita Arora belongs to another film, another world.
A special word for Karnik and Aseem Arora`s dialogues. The conversations convey both the reality of life and the richness of a life that exists beyond the mundane everyday chit-chat.
After watching Heroes, one wonders whether it was really Samir Karnik who made the no-show Kyun, Ho Gaya Na.
`Heroes` - Sameer Karnik pins hopes on patriotism now (IANS Film Preview)
While his directorial debut Kyun! Ho Gaya Na...
was an unconventional love story starring Aishwarya Rai and Vivek Oberoi, his
second film Nanhe Jaisalmer was about an unusual friendship between
a film star and a Rajasthani boy. But both the films bombed. Now Karnic turns to
patriotism to win over audiences.
The film has an army background, but Karnik says it is just symbolic and is basically about individuals.
The movie doesn`t focus on war like `Border` or `LOC Kargil`, he was quoted as saying.
Karnik has co-written Heroes with Aseem Arora. The film is about a road trip of two guys - Sohail Khan and Vatsal Seth.
They travel 1,000 miles to meet their destiny. The film shows that all of us have a hero inside us. It is only experience that makes us realise it, said Karnik.
The film revolves around Sammy (Sohail Khan) and Ali (Vatsal Seth), who are friends and do everything together. In short, they are highly dependent on each other for everything.
While Sammy is high-spirited and has a knack of finding humour in the weirdest of situations, Ali is quieter and more mature. When the two friends travel 1,000 miles to deliver three letters as a part of their film school assignment, little do they know that the journey will give them a new meaning of life.
Sammy and Ali travel via road from Delhi to Chandigarh and then from Manali to Ladakh. During their journey, they meet Balkar Singh (Salman Khan) and his wife Kuljeet Kaur (Preity Zinta).
A man of few words, Balkar has pledged his life for his country. Like most men, Balkar has beautiful dreams for his family, but he knows he might not be able to fulfil them.
His wife Kuljeet takes pride in being an army man`s wife and is happy that her son wants to walk the same path as his father. Kuljeet is a loving wife, a caring mother, a single daughter and the best daughter-in-law anyone could ask for. Sacrifice comes naturally to Kuljeet and so does hard work.
Then they meet the two brothers - Vikram (Sunny Deol) and Dhananjay Shergill (Bobby Deol).
Dhananjay is a charming and affectionate guy, but just like a child he is constantly trying to prove that he is better than his brother Vikram. Yet, when needed, that child takes a backseat to let the soldier in him take charge.
Th duo then meet Dr. Naqvi (Mithun Chakraborty), whose life is meaningless without his son Sahil (Dino Morea), an army man.
The chance meeting with these people have a life-changing impact on these two youngsters` lives.
The film earlier titled Mera Bharat Mahan will see Salman for the first time in a Sikh get-up. The actor grew his beard for three weeks before the filming to give an authentic Sikh look.
And Preity reportedly took a refresher course in acting from Anupam Kher`s acting school to brush up her skills for a deglamorised role of a timid wife.
The film has been shot in Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Delhi.