The turmoil of Sarabjit Singh, a farmer from Bhikhiwind, Punjab, who wandered into Pakistan in an inebriated state in the year 1990, is perhaps known to everyone. The movie is based on the story of a man, Sarabjit Singh incarcerated in a Pakistani jail for over two decades, while his sister fought a dogged battle for his release, opts for high-pitched saccharine-laden melodrama. Her elder sister Dalbir Kaur fought for decades to get her brother back, the film by director Omung Kumar depicts the fight of a sister for her brother.
Sarabjit lived with his family—old father, wife Sukh, and doting sister Dalbir in a Punjab village close to the Indo-Pak border. The movie depicts the happy times beautifully, family enjoying little things in life completely unaware of the horrendous future that awaits them.
After Sarabjit is captured begins the 23 years long struggle of a sister to free her brother from the inhuman conditions of Pakistani jails. From waiting for months to enter the Prime Minister’s office, going on hunger strikes to going to Pakistan to visit her brother, she does everything in capacity, but in vain. Her brother later succumbs to the injuries received in the Pakistani jail; the family never got a happy ending.
Aishwarya Rai plays Dalbir in the movie, which seems an unfit for the role since the beginning. The rural Punjabi accent does not come naturally to her and she struggles to depict the emotions in the scenes where she is supposed to deliver dialogues on a high pitch. The anger comes out as her shrieking in the scenes and one loses connect to the anguish felt by a sister. She is able to communicate more in the silent scenes where one can feel the heart wrenching story; the movie could have played in her favour if the role of Dalbir would have been played with more subtleness rather than long lectures in shrieking pitch.
Richa Chadha plays the wife who appears in two to three scenes throughout the movie, her dilemma of not able to move on or mourn properly for her husband is portrayed beautifully.
An actor who continues to bowl us over with his acting skills is Randeep Hooda, he has also shown earlier that he can immerse into a character, adopting the body language and accent. This time he nails the character, the degenerating of the man emotionally and physically is depicted perfectly by Randeep. The scenes where he is tortured or kept in a box are portrayed marvelously, and one cannot save but emphasize with the character.
This movie is a watch only because of the agony and pain of Sarabjit brought to life on screen by Randeep and not because of the superstar who was the lead in the movie. Aishwarya is perhaps a letdown in the saga and may be a wrong choice by the director for a rustic role. A real-life tale which is inherently so full of drama and heart-break has no need to be artificially revved up. One wonders, the movie should have been called ‘Dalbir’.