Roar review: Novelty of the concept makes it an interesting film
Abhinav Shukla, Himarsha, Subrat Dutta, Virendra Singh Ghuman, Ali Quli Mirza
Do you remember the song Tujhe Naa Dekhoon Toh Chain Mujhe Aata Nahi from 1993 film Rang? If yes then you are likely to remember the guy opposite Divya Bharti. Yes, I am talking about Kamal Sadanah, one of the cute heroes of early ‘90s. He is a director now and his debut venture tries to explore a lesser seen world.
A wildlife photographer goes to the Sunderbans, one of the most dense mangrove forests in the world, where he rescues a white tiger cub only to be discovered and killed by the cub’s mother. Now, the photographer’s brother Pandit (Abhinav Shukla), who is a commando by profession, is back in the tiger’s territory to avenge the death of his kin. But, despite being a trained soldier he is helpless in a land which belongs to the deadly wild creatures. What will happen to his vows then? Is he on the right track? Should the killer animal be treated as one lesser species and be spared the pain of death?
What’s so uncommon about this storyline? Basically nothing but since time immemorial stories are dealing with same set of nine emotions, and a good storyteller only changes the quantity of the ingredients. Has Kamal Sadanah become successful in doing so? Let’s find out.
Roar is not your typical man versus wild story as it swings between fantasy and adventure genres. There are sequences in the film which are completely fictionalised and lack any factual base but somehow they have turned out to be the most intriguing parts of the film. Anyway, we will talk about the creative liberty later.
The screenplay follows the usual linear structure where the director doesn’t spare much time in establishing the premise. A group of commandos, who wear glamorous clothes and take them off, is out on a mission to kill a so called man-eater. They have all the modern ammunitions and gadgets which they are using for a personal mission. Their anger brings them inside the delta region of the Sunderbans where they are tracked by wild beasts. Very soon, it becomes a direct fight between Pandit’s men and the tigress. This conflict looks stupid because the commandos arrive in the forest with arms and ammunition enough to blow up an entire district.The man behind the megaphone wants to hide this goof-up with an exhibition of chiseled physiques. You see army print was never out of the fashion and thus the female members of the group keep flaunting their curvaceous figures in hot pants. Male members can also afford to go shirtless because the director very candidly makes one character say, "Sunderban me machchar aur kenchuye nahi hote," (Sunderbans is devoid of mosquitoes and leeches).
Because the target is not any ordinary tigress they have to go the extra mile where the brute starts killing them one by one. The tigress is smart enough to outwit the trained men at every point. Instead of falling into the trap meant for her, she devises a way to lead Pandit into the interiors of Sunderbans. She confuses Pandit with misleading footmarks and wrong symbols and ends up trapping them. At this juncture the hunters step up the gas rather than backing off and all hell breaks loose. Had it not been about the fantasised version of a jungle trail, the film would have turned into a joke at this point only. On the contrary, this becomes the cusp where Roar turns into an engaging story. Let me describe some scenes for you.
An apparent tribal marriage is happening where everybody is witnessing a strange ritual which sees the couple getting manually covered up by millions of honeybees. Some members of the Girgiti Kaum appear out of nowhere to bless the couple. What’s so special about it? The surrealism with which the sequence has been shot amidst the forests and its mysterious is breathtaking. For the uninitiated, Girgiti Kaum is of the people who are expert at camouflaging.
There is another scene where thousands of snakes chase Pandit’s gang. Even the ordinary moviegoer would figure out the role of CGI in it but it’s presented with such grandeur that the audience finds it hard to take eyes off till its over.
Similarly, the introduction of tiger tracker Jhumpa (Himarsha) is another interesting scene whose drama is heightened by a fantastic background score. John Stewart is the man responsible for that and his work is value added by Oscar winning sound designer Resul Pookutty.
One may find glimpses of Anaconda or Welcome To The Jungle in Roar but it’s probably the first Hindi film which has touched this adventure-fantasy genre wholeheartedly. Director of photography Micheal Watson has captured the essence of Sunderbans and its enticing death holes. Thanks to his camera, the jungle comes alive in its most wicked form. To me, he is the real auteur of the film but even his fabulous work couldn’t conceal bad scripting and terrible acting. The landscapes shown in Roar will remain with you for a long time.
Now come to the point of cinematic liberty and why a film should be judged in its entirety and not just on the basis of flawed storyline and lack of logic. How many directors come out of the usual rom-com-action zone to make a film on such issues? Out of them, how many dare to add fantasised sequences in the story? Shouldn’t Roar be given a chance due to its novelty and brave persuasion of modern cinematic techniques?
Roar can’t boast of big names and perfect acting skills but it can always show you something that you didn’t even know existed in India. Yes, CGI is largely responsible for it but even then somebody had to use it judiciously. Sadanah, also the editor of Roar, has somehow managed to keep the tempo satisfactory till the end. In my opinion, Roar deserves your attention because it’s a smartly executed film.