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Monday, December 11, 2023

Pataakha Movie Review: Sibling Rivalry Translates to Good Cinema

Pataakha is based on Charan Singh Pathik’s short story ‘Do Behnein’.

The film narrates the story of two feuding sisters who realise the true nature of their relationship only after marriage separates them.

Starring newbies Radhika Madan and Sanya Malhotra in the main leads, Filme Shilmy reviews this Vishal Bhardwaj comedy-drama.

Vishal Bhardwaj’s brilliant filmmaking-style

There is everything within Pataakha that one looks out for in a Vishal Bhardwaj film. You have your aspect of grit, idiosyncrasy and witty humour.

From the locations, costumes to the characters, Vishal encapsulates the Rajasthan village life very well.

Unlike other directors, he does not romanticise realism. He presents how it is, without being preachy.

Vishal Bhardwaj is a true story-teller and the way he presents Pataakha is a testament to this.

Developing a short-story into a full-length feature film is not an easy task, but Vishal competently does this.

Witty comedy

The film is a comedy, but having seen the film, this could have easily been a dark and morbid tale.

However, the movie exudes a witty sense of humour.

Whether it is mispronouncing English words, highlighting political situations, great dialogues or funny situations, you WILL chuckle and for the good reasons.

The comic timing is apt, subtle and weaves naturally into the film’s narrative.

Not at any point did the comedy seem forced or artificial. Very well-handled.

Plus, the concept of sibling rivalry is a fascinating subject as it promises drama through the relationships between the two protagonists.

Bhardwaj’s earlier work Makdee too revolved around sibling rivalry and we got to see a clear transition of the relationship.

As a result in this film, we expected to see how (if at all) this bond changes between Champa and Genda.

Thankfully, Vishal presents this journey with such simplicity.

Unconventional Indian female characters

Speaking of the protagonists, one cannot help but admire the creations of Champa and Genda Kumari.

If we think about it, the two characters are quite unconventional.

How often do we get to see two village girls brawling, screaming profanities and smoking?

In addition to those tropes, we also get to witness their emotions, dreams and ambitions.

Vishal shatters the stereotypical image of female Indian village characters and it works very well.

Moreover, there is a natural character craft for both the protagonists.

Even though they fight throughout, we see maturity develop through the two sibling characters.

Consequently, the well-written characters are enhanced by the superlative performances.

Marvellous Performances

Given that this is Radhika Madan’s first commercial Bollywood, she truly is DYNAMITE.

Her first ever acting experience was with her serial Meri Aashiqui Tum Se Hi and she comes across as a matured and seasoned actor.

Be it mastering the dialect, body language and expressions, Madan aces her character as the bossy elder sister. Radhika Madan is a gem.

A lot of eyes are fixed upon Sanya Malhotra, who created huge waves with her first performance in Dangal.

Playing Genda Kumari, she is excellent too. Moreover, she has a solid screen-presence and has a very promising career.

Both display a phenomenal synergy which translates very well on-screen. Their acting is very natural.

In Shakespearean plays (though this is not an adaptation on one), comedic characters often seem like they’re there for comic relief.

However, such roles turn out to be all-knowing and Sunil Grover’s role in Pataakha is amongst those lines.

His character is a pivotal aspect to the film and he enacts this part with such ease. 

The beauty is that he does not repeat aspects of his previous comedic personas like Dr Mashoor Gulati in this role. He adapts Dipper as his own.

Supporting actors like Vijay Raaz (as the siblings’ father), Saanand Verma, Namit Das and Abhishek Duhan too are well in their respective roles.

What’s missing?

There are of course several positive aspects to Pataakha. But there are a few downsides.

Though the first half seems to fly past, one feels that the second-half drags slightly. 

Also, the ‘Hello Hello’ song featuring Malaika Arora is unnecessary, as this is positioned at a time when the love interests of Champa and Genda are developing.

Fortunately, despite these two weak points, the viewer does not get bored or disinterested in the film.

On the whole, Pataakha is a unique, authentic and refreshing piece of cinema.

The concept of sibling rivalry is presented in a very unconventional way and Vishal Bhardwaj succeeds in balancing creativity with novelty.

In addition, the performances of Radhika, Sanya and Sunil will leave you entertained and impressed.

A recommended watch!

⭐⭐⭐.5 (.3.5/5 stars)

Anuj Radia
Journalist and film enthusiast.

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