Also in the cinemas this week, Gour Hari Dastaan based on the deeply affecting true-life story of a middle-aged man and his struggle over 32 years to be officially recognized for his contribution to the freedom movement.
Vinay Pathak offers a nicely restrained performance as Gandhian idealist and Khadi Kraft worker Gour Hari Das, who, when his son fails to secure admission in an engineering college under the Freedom Fighters quota, becomes determined to seek acknowledgment of his fight for the nation. From writing to the authorities, visiting government offices, and seeking meetings with influential politicians and ministers, Das’ pursuit of a mere official document pits him against an apathetic system and a corrupt bureaucracy.
Director Ananth Mahadevan and writer CP Surendran create a convincing portrait of a man becoming increasingly estranged from the world as he watches with sheer bewilderment his naïve expectations repeatedly shattered. Konkona Sensharma doesn’t miss a beat as Das’ loyal wife, bringing careful nuance to a complex part. Ranvir Shorey is terrific as a cynical journalist who agrees to pursue Das’ story.
There are moments of great power in the film, which flashbacks to Das’ early years when he was jailed with other nationalists in Orissa. Mahadevan shoots at a deliberate pace, allowing the viewer to fully take in the irony of the situation – that the struggle to prove one’s identity as a freedom fighter was almost as punishing as the freedom struggle itself.
Make time for Gour Hari Dastaan. It’s an important story that must be heard.