Gour Hari Dastaan
Vinay Pathak, Ranvir Shorey, Tannishtha Chatterjee, Konkona Sen Sharma
It's a story we've heard of so many times in the past: An ageing freedom fighter running from pillar to post, waging his own battle against bureaucratic red tape, trying to prove that he participated in the freedom struggle. With actors like Vinay Pathak, Konkona Sen and Ranvir Shorey in the line-up, Anant Mahadevan's Gour Hari Dastaan could well have been Mahesh Bhatt's Saraansh. Sadly, it's too slow and the execution too boring. Nonetheless, the film definitely belongs to the league.
Based on a true story,
starts slow, but the intensity of Anant's story overwhelms and forces you to ponder the path we have taken as a nation, the way we run our systems.
Gour Hari (Vinay Pathak) is an old freedom fighter who went to jail at the age of 14 to be a part of Mahatma Gandhi's 'vanar sena' (the children's army who acted as couriers between revolutionaries). In his old age, Hari is sucked into another battle when he is denied the tamrapatra (a certificate awarded to all freedom fighters) in 1975. The film traces his turbulent journey, spanning 32 years, where he is accompanied by his wife Lakshmi (Konkona Sensharma) and a journalist Rajiv (Ranvir Shorey).
Vinay Pathak slips into his character with consummate ease, and looks convincing as a Gandhian fighting both his old age and the rotten system. Except that he does not look realistic as a 70-year-old. Konkona impresses with her emotive face and does a good job being a frustrated wife. Ranvir's life-story which runs parallel in parts does not sync with Gour Hari's narrative but the actor manages to pull it off very well.
It is not just the main actors who excel in Gour Hari Dastaan. Even the ones who appear for a few minutes' sequence leave an impact. Saurabh Shukla, Rajit Kapoor, Vikram Gokhale, Mohan Kapur, Murli Sharma, Achint Kaur and Vipin Sharma all shine like bright stars in the movie despite their extremely small sequences.
Director Ananth Mahadevan, who has also co-written the script with CP Surendran, has made a good use of minute details to highlight the failure of our babu-system. Long queues outside government offices; the unheard voice of the common man, out-of-work lifts even decades after Independence are just some of the small things that highlight the plight of common Indians in the current scenario. He effectively drives home the point that a corrupt system should be a bigger concern for the nation than the British. Much like several movies before its time,
too, shows quite a few characters, including that of Vinay Pathak, claiming that as far as functioning of system goes, India worked far smoother under the British!
Anant's aims an Andre Gide quote at Indians right at the opening of the movie: "To know how to free oneself is nothing; the arduous thing is to know what to do with one’s freedom."
The honesty of the story and its relevance in today's times makes the film stay with you.
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