Chaar Sahibzaade 2
Narration: Om Puri
Director: Harry Baweja
The Indian animation film business mostly thrives on mythological and religious content. Still the commercial success of Chaar Sahibzaade (2014), a documentation of the Sikh history, was a much desired shot in the arm for the local animation industry.
The choice of narrative technique was interesting. The film was in Punjabi, and it used a voiceover. Characters took shape only towards the latter half of the film. It was primarily an attempt to set the record straight on the origin and spread of Sikhism.
Despite some beating about the bush, it captured the imagination of filmgoers. Harry Baweja, the director, stuck to conversational Punjabi which worked well in centres such as Delhi and Chandigarh.
Now, Baweja is back with Chaar Sahibzaade sequel -- The Rise Of Banda Bahadur. He has employed all the old techniques to keep a similar tone and to give a sense of continuity.
The Rise Of Banda Bahadur begins with the transformation of Madho Das, from an ascetic to a military commander. It’s believed that Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Sikh Guru, met him on the banks of Godavari near Nanded (Maharashtra) and inspired him to take charge of the Sikh uprising against Delhi’s Muslim rulers.
The Mughal dynasty is well past its glory days as the 18th century dawns. Governor Wazir Khan, the ruler of Sirhind, the present day Fatehgarh Sahib district of Punjab, is a tyrant. In 1705, he orders Guru Gobind Singh’s two sons to be killed, and it is up to Banda Bahadur to avenge the murders.
The good and the bad guys are clearly marked. As Banda Bahadur goes after Wazir Khan, we know what to expect. But, we want to see the military techniques, the warfare. Instead, a verbal duel between Khan and Banda Bahadur is unleashed upon us.
The writers must be credited for keeping the heat up throughout the final Sirhind battle sequence, but they take good 45 minutes to get there. The build-up, in large parts, states the obvious.
The initial flashes into the life of Banda Bahadur don’t add much to the drama and even slow down the pace. The film gains momentum only when he decides to cross the Yamuna and move further towards the Sutlej river.
Voiceover artists have done their job but the same can’t be said about the animators. Lack of funds can be blamed for the film’s TV-like feel.
The 134-minute runtime does seem like a stretch, but if you sit through the initial scenes, you’re in for a thrilling ride.
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