19 December 2009 | sumanbarthakursmailbox
Sikandar is a good movie
Sikandar, written and directed by Piyush Jha, is intended as a poignant drama about the lost innocence of children in Kashmir. Despite its best efforts though, the film doesn't quite work because of a rickety screenplay that leaves you with too many questions unanswered.Parzaan Dastur stars as 14-year-old Sikandar, a football-obsessed Muslim kid whose parents were killed by militants in the Valley, and who lives with his uncle and aunt in the Kashmiri countryside now. He's routinely picked on by the bullies at school, and when he stumbles across a discarded pistol one day, he decides to keep it, and begins waving it in the face of anyone who bothers him. A local Islamic militant notices this and befriends the young boy whom he trains to use the gun. Ayesha Kapur stars as Sikandar's school friend Nasreen, who warns him to stay away from the gun and his new mentor, but the kid inadvertently becomes embroiled in a tussle between feared militants, a peace-advocating politician, and the Army. It's the writing, unfortunately, that plays spoilsport here, with poor characterisation coming in the way of your taking this tale seriously. Jha makes cardboard caricatures out of significant characters like the Army officer (played by R Madhavan), the dreaded terrorist (played by newcomer Arunoday Singh), and the peace-trading politician (played by Sanjay Suri), each of whom is saddled with clunky dialogue. While it's admirable that the film doesn't take sides when pointing out where the real problem lies, Sikandar suffers from the sudden shift in tone – it goes from a standard morality tale in its first half to a cheesy thriller in its second. There is also the issue of the unforgivable, over-simplistic climax in which the leads are absolved of responsibility for their crimes. What's more the film's jarring background score and sluggish pace also act as party poopers. On the up-side, Sikandar is memorable for its compelling cinematography of this scenic land in all its lush beauty. But sadly that is not enough to do the trick. Both leads – Parzaan Dastur and particularly Ayesha Kapoor – appear too raw to pull off consistent performances, and the plot holes are too many to ignore. Sikandar may have its heart in the right place, but its other parts needed assembling.It misses its goal by a mile.