29 October 2013 | MartinHafer
Incredibly depressing though quite good.
I thought "Saaransh" was a terrific movie, but as I watched it I also worried about other viewers. After all, it's one of the more depressing films I've ever seen and if you are already seriously depressed, it could push you over the edge! So, if you want a feel-good movie, keep looking! However, if you don't mind that the film is numbingly depressing at times, then you should definitely give it a look.
A word also about this film and other Indian films from this era. While the Bollywood formula today is very well established today, this is not what you'll necessarily see in older Indian movies. Giant choreographed song and dance numbers aren't in this one and the musical interludes (there are a couple) sound very canned. I've seen this before in films from the 70s and 80s and don't mind it--just don't expect a romance or the same vibe you get from more recent films.
The film begins with Professor Pradhan having trouble sleeping yet again. This is because his son was murdered three months earlier and he still is struggling with the depression. His wife, on the other hand, is more optimistic and buries herself in religion. But, as he is an atheist, he feels alone and miserable. Eventually he sees the only way out is suicide.
Fortunately, something snaps him out of his depression. The couple recently took in a border and now he sees the woman need their help. It seems that she's pregnant and her fiancée is a weak man with a horribly evil father. In fact, the father is prepared to do ANYTHING to stop the baby from being born--and because he's a government official, he seems ready, willing AND able. Poor Mr. and Mrs. Pradhan don't stand a chance against him and his power--yet, inexplicably, they stand firm--defying the powers that be.
As far as the ending goes, I won't go into it here--it would spoil the film. Just be prepared--it IS depressing. So, this combined with the son's death, the father's suicide attempts and the violence that the politician unleashes upon them, it is a lot to take in one film. But, it also provided a wonderful opportunity to see a truly remarkable performance. Anupam Kher played the professor and appeared to be about 70 years old more or less. However, he was only 29 at the time!! You can't tell he's wearing makeup and coloring his hair--and he ACTS like a depressed elderly man. In fact, he is the reason to watch the film--a really special performance that you need to see to appreciate. It's also interesting to see just how cynical an Indian film can be about government corruption--a theme I've actually seen in quite a few Indian films.
By the way, although I strongly recommend the film, I should point out that the captions were terrible. They were significantly delayed and occasionally sentences weren't even captioned. It's a real shame.