Verdict: An echo of the intense situation in Punjab during the 1980s.
There are very few films that manage to create an experience that makes you feel like you are a part of the movie. This is probably how films based on sensitive topics or epic dramas should be made – unadulterated, vivid, and far, far away from any commercial elements. Gurvinder Singh, the director who won the National Award for his critically acclaimed film, Anhe Ghore Da Daan, has come back with another masterpiece, Chauthi Koot (The Fourth Direction). This film, too, has won a National Award in the Best Punjabi Film category.
In every shot of Chauthi Koot, you will find simplicity and the essence of Punjab. The film not only focuses on one particular family, but also gives you an idea of how things were with everyone who was a part of the situation at that point. At the beginning of the film, you are introduced to two Hindu men, who are desperately trying to reach Amritsar. When they reach the railway station, they notice the police officers are inspecting the train and making sure that it goes empty to Amritsar. Now, stranded on the railway station, they, along with another passenger, try their best to convince the Railway Officer to let them board that empty train. After a lot of struggle, they succeed. That’s when you start wondering if something is fishy, and if their lives are somehow connected to the main story.
From there the film updates you on the incidents that happened in a village to a family, a couple of months before the train incident. Here, you get to see a trailer of the kind of cruelty that militants inflicted on civilians who refused to cooperate with them. If the family tried to cooperate in order to save themselves, they would be risking their lives and everything, as they would be tagged as the “accomplices of the terrorists” by the cops. If they get caught, they would most likely be shot, tortured, or put in jail by the government officers.
While all this is happening, the family’s pet dog gets the worst of it. A dog is considered to be a loyal friend, but this time his loyalty becomes the main cause of all the chaos. Will they kill the dog to save their lives? Will the two men reach Amritsar? Find out in Chauthi Koot.
The film is neatly shot and is filled with brilliant camera angles. As much as the narrative in the film, the background score gets you hooked. It helps the film create that build-up which keeps it intriguing and thought-provoking. All the actors in the film have done a commendable job. It really cannot get more real than this. The overall experience is subtle and long-lasting.
Why You Should Watch This Movie:
If you want to experience what people went through in Punjab during the Sikh riots in the 1980s, this is what you should be watching. Gurvinder Singh has intelligently shot Chauthi Koot, ensuring it never looks pretentious.