Prakash Jha’s Sikandar just shows a glimpse of the grim reality in the Kashmir valley. And though the movie focuses on terror, it is definitely not subtle about the religious or political sides of the picture. Dedicated to the children of Kashmir, the movie brushes on state-sponsored terrorism and the futility of peace treaties in the real world.
The curiosity of a 14-year old aspiring footballer Sikandar (Dastur) gets the better of him when he stumbles upon a gun and takes it home. Aware of the weapon’s power, he uses it to scare anyone who dares to defy him. But soon the gun gets the attention of insurgents who think they have discovered a new jihad recuit, until one of them gets shot dead. This brings about a misunderstanding among the ranks in society, since the death comes into the purview of not just the police, but the army (who are busy with fake encounters) , the religious body, and a fringe group that rallies for peace in Kashmir.
Every war has its price, but often the ones who pay the price are those who didn’t want anything with it in the first place. Piyush Jha captures the nitty-gritty of Valley life- the rituals, the culture, the religiosity – not forgetting the underlying fear that haunts residents of any strife-torn region. And though the movie can be painstakingly slow, it’s interesting to watch how legal and illegal outfits exploit the masses for their own gain. The bottomline being, if the militants don’t kill you, the army will or maybe your best friend who is a secret jihadi.
Sikandar tells a good story but leaves a lot to be desired concerning performances. For a topic this serious, Parzan Dastur and Ayesha Kapur are hardly convincing. Sanjay Suri and R Madhavan look like they’re in only for star value.
Sikandar is not entertaining, but it’s definitely trying to break the mould.