Review: They say music heals, it bridges boundaries, brings people together and is one of the best ways of de-stressing known to man. That’s what the protagonists too believe in Aalaap. The film chronicles the journey of a popular band in Raipur who decide to reach out to Naxalites with their music (by trying to spread love to a bunch of folk trained in something along the lines of guerilla warfare!). Sounds absurd and hard to digest? But really, why should it? Music knows no boundaries. It’s no wonder then that we go berserk trying to buy tickets for a Strings concert (hardly wincing at the fact that their from an enemy nation). Our only concern is their music which moves us and their lyrics which we relate to our lives.
Firstly, I’ll credit the director for attempting to make a film about a sensitive topic – Naxalism. The film begins with the police trying to trace a member of a small town band and from then on goes into flashback mode. In all honesty, the film’s first 15 minutes are a blur and you want to switch off, courtesy it’s blaring background score. But post that, you’re glued, despite it’s flaws.
Rahul (Amit Purohit) has recently been appointed as the head of the Cultural Committee and for the annual college festival he needs to scout for a band. Predictably, he being the good samaritarian, finds a bunch of idle guys who apart from being musicians, live on smokes and drinks. He pays them the amount they demand on the condition that they give up these vices! Before you know it, the trio are indebted to him for transforming their lives and they’ve become best buddies. Everything goes well until they witness a blast, conspired by the Naxals. Several such incidents continue around neighboring areas like Dantewada which disturb them and awaken the change makers in these once upon a time apathetic souls, except Rahul of course.
Yes, there are traces of Rang De Basanti in this film. They initially even plan to confront them with an army of a thousand men but after realizing its futility, they decide to make them change their ways with their music. Despite it’s unique plot and engaging screenplay, the film loses out all thanks to it’s dialogues which ooze melodrama. The film’s cinematography isn’t spectacular either and doesn’t stand out. The music, on the other hand, by the band Agnee doesn’t bore you despite the fact that there’s a song every 18 minutes or so. A memorable mention is the song Dil awaaz de.
As far as the acting and characters are concerned, Rahul’s character has undoubtedly been glorified and is far too idealistic to be true, you yearn to see shades of grey in this hero, but then I guess that’s why they’re called heroes! The other three band members Subhash (Pitobash) and Brijesh (Harsh Rajput) may have significant screen time but are overshadowed so much by Rahul’s goodness that we don’t know their names, until much later in the film. We know Prashant’s (Aabid Shamim) name as his brother gets hospitalized in a particular scene.
Character artistes like Raghubeer Yadav, Onkarnath Manikpuri, Abhimanyu Singh, Vijay Raaz and Murali Sharma as always succeed in making their mark. Especially, Sharma as the leader of the Naxal troop who later softens. It’s characters like his and Dr. Bharti’s (Rituparna Sengupta) who’s torn between not treating the Naxalites and fulfilling her duty of being a doctor, that save the film and dilute its melodrama.
An unnecessary item number at Rahul’s engagement (where his widowed father yearned for his wife!) and a predictable climax that immortalizes the protagonists are some of the factors that bring this film down. A little less melodrama and it would have done as well as it deserved, sadly urban audiences will laugh at it.
Verdict: Don’t dismiss this small budget film, it’s definitely worth your time and money.
Director: Manish Manikpuri
Cast: Amit Purohit, Pitobash, Harsh Rajput, Aabid Shamim, Raghubeer Yadav, Onkarnath Manikpuri, Abhimanyu Singh, Vijay Raaz, Murali Sharma and Rituparna Sengupta.
Writer: Dilip Shukla
Length: 1 hour 58 minutes