12 April 2004 | hprill
First part of Mani Ratnam's political trilogy
This is the first movie of what was to become director Mani Ratnam's "political trilogy" ("Bombay" and "Dil Se" being the movies to follow). While not quite as accomplished as the later movies, he develops a very simple story of a young married couple, the subsequent kidnapping of the husband and the wife's attempts to persuade the authorities to help free him into a well-rounded movie that works on almost all levels that it encompasses:
The love relationship between the two main characters is credible and well-handled; the struggle of the individual citizen vs. government authorities and individual desires vs. the larger scale of politics is dealt with intensely (the scene where the Colonel tells Roja that "everyone is happy" is simply chilling), and even the interplay of the kidnapped and the terrorists works out really well, even if it seems sometimes that Rishi Kumar was lucky ending up with these rather than more ruthless people.
The only problem that I have with this movie are a small handful of scenes in which Indian patriotism is showcased in what I felt was a rather blunt manner (but then, coming from a different country, I may lack some essential cultural background to understand it).
Apart from this one quibble I think it's a good movie that you should really see, especially I've you've seen Mani Ratnam's other films. Acting is solid, especially from Pankaj Kapoor as the terrorist leader, but also from Arvind Swamy as Rishi (except perhaps when he goes into patriotic overdrive). Also on-screen chemistry between Arvind and Madhoo is fabulous. The music is an early, often charming ("Dil hai chhota sa") score by A. R. Rahman.