The quote, “Innocence is Bliss” is really only applicable to children. At a tender age, it is the young who have no idea as to what is really going on around them nor do they understand that they can be mislead by people around them. Sikander talks about just that. In recent times, Bollywood has come out with films which depict the lives of children in the forgotten land of Kashmir. Tahaan spoke about a young boy and the immense love for his donkey in the valleys of Kashmir and now it is the turn of Piyush Jha whose latest offering Sikander follows the life of one young boy. The star cast is headed by the ultra talented Parzun Dastur, of Kuch Kuch Hota Hain and Parzania fame along with Ayesha Kapur, the young Rani Mukherjee in Black. To lend a hand to the youngsters are R. Madhavan and Sanjay Suri in pivotal and vital roles. Tahaan went on to become critically acclaimed for his innovative and touching screenplay. Read on to see if Sikander has the potential to do the same or not.
Fourteen-year-old Sikander Raza (Parzan Dastur) is a school boy in the Jammu and Kashmir area who lives with his aunt and uncle after his parents were killed in by militants. The young boy dreams of two things: playing football and one day buying his aunt a washing machine. On his way home from school one day, he stumbles upon a gun which he takes into his possession and only shares the secret of his new toy with his close confidante Nasreen (Ayesha Kapur). He meets a militant who agrees to teach him the ways of the gun and slowly becomes yet another trainee. Sikander finds himself giving into the “calling” of the gun and is pulled into a game of politics and warfare. He soon realizes he is nothing but a victim who has nothing to give but everything to lose.
Unfortunately Sikander does not lie in the same category as Tahaan. The film has the potential to become one to beckon with but quickly loses not only its grasp of the subject but any kind of magnetism in the plot. As a director, Jha has clearly tried his best to make the film work and to a certain degree it does manage to leave an impact. Kashmir has never looked so beautiful and complete credit goes to Piyush Jha for letting the locales become an integral part of the film and also a character in the film. The problem in the film comes with the mixed genre of the film. Is it supposed to be telling a story? Suspense? Thriller? At some point in the film, the viewer gets confused as to what is supposed to be firstly, the motif and secondly, the reason for the script.
Parzan Dastur is a fabulous and flawless. The young actor blossoms in and as Sikander. His performance is not only perfect but incredibly mature for an actor of his age. He has gone on to raise the bar for himself as a performer. Ayesha Kapur on the other hand is a complete misfit and how. Her characterization and empathy with the Nasreen does not work at all; disappointing after her sound performance in Black. Madhavan and Suri both work well and are apt.
Sikander is a film that speaks volumes stripping innocence from the already innocent. It talks about children as victims and how they have literally become the ones that suffer at the hands of politics and war. The film is good but not great. Sikander may not be a Sikander at the box office but it is definitely worth a single watch.