23 July 2017 | nairtejas
2017: Outright Mockery. ♦ Grade F
If you look at Major Ravi's filmography, it is clear what his intentions are. However, none of his films are cinematically strong. They are like used bullet shells that have no use but are there to remind us about wars. This war drama is no different.
Sahadevan (Mohanlal) is a Major in the Indian army who speaks awful Hindi and English, and leads a team of largely Malayali soldiers at the border. It's 1971, and India is sporadically at war with East or West Pakistan (it's unclear). Although Sahadevan has a family back home, he is dedicated at his work and on the task at hand, which is to kill as many enemies as possible in the battlefield. With insubordination, arrogance, constant thirst for alcohol, and a large belly that prevents free movement of his body as weapons, he leads his battalion against a faction of Pakistani soldiers headed by Commander Akram Raja (Arunoday Singh), who (no prize for guessing) also has a family back home.
The narrative has no idea what it's doing because at one point, we see a soldier being sent to help a father grieve his father's loss and at another, we see Sahadevan reprimanding a young soldier for exchanging risqué pornographic love letters with his newly-wedded wife. To say the least, everything is all over the place. It looks like Director Ravi gathered all typical war elements in his hand, put it in a Preethi mixer grinder, and blended it till the time he was satisfied and was able to cook up a pretentious and pathetic story to decorate the blended mixture with. I'm not sure if the guarantee provided by Preethi was enough, because the final dish looks stale, smells ghastly, and tastes like human viscera. Throughout the film, the Indian soldiers are running and walking around the field in groups like they are in a treasure hunt. Just plain awful!
There's not a single good point to talk about 1971: Beyond Borders except Arunoday Singh's below average performance as a moral army man. Whatever the makers intended by creating such an ambitious yet floppy film is beyond me, because neither the technical aspects nor the writing is proper here. Mohanlal is a phenomenal actor but seeing him blurt out nonsense and play with a tank in a war field is excruciatingly painful. His character is a self-righteous pig who ogles at young married women when not at the war-front. While the supporting cast also disappoint with their unpolished performance, it is untalented Allu Sirish who becomes another pain in the neck portraying a soldier like he's a floozy.
Director Ravi is an awful director, and this film proves it once again. His intentions as a former army man may be novel, but it's a kind request from a serious cinema-watcher that he stop making us - the general, informed audience - put up with such ludicrous war films. I'm not even going to talk about those songs that are part of this 130-minute madness.
BOTTOM LINE: Major Ravi's "1971: Beyond Borders" is not a war film, but instead a mockery of war, picturised using painted characters that do not know anything about war just like the people who made the film. It is cringe-worthy, melodramatic, and purely imaginative. Skip for life!
Can be watched with a typical Indian family? YES