NYIFF 2017 Film Review “Sarvann”



First, the Recap:

Being the rebel. It always has its allure. The notion that taking life in stride with a sense of reckless freedom, standing out via deeds done that push the edge of what’s acceptable, or simply choosing to cross the line into criminality to blatantly defy social convention, there’s an undeniable appeal–but at what price? For Canadian resident Mithu (Amrinder Gill), breaking the law is something he’s no stranger to, being a part of a local gang, making many adversaries, all while having gained no real respect. When taking unilateral action against a rival, Mithu ends up the victim of reprisal, only to then turn around and initiate his own revenge, but in the process, murders an innocent.

No longer protected in his Canadian home, Mithu takes advice and flees to India, ultimately finding his way to Punjab despite the initial machinations of a untrustworthy cabbie. It is in Punjab he first sets eyes on a vision of beauty named Paali (Simi Chahal) whom he instantly falls for, even if her interest seems somewhat non-evident at first as her family has other plans via an arranged marriage to the quiet, shy, and awkward Amreek (Ranjit Bawa). Over time, however, Mithu and Paali become close, and life seems to be moving forward, especially as Mithu gets in good with Paali’s parents (Gurmeet Sajjan & Seema Kaushal).

However, upon a chance meeting with Amreek’s family, a startling and path-altering truth is revealed that shakes Mithu to the core, causing him to have to admit a harsh truth and face his past, or lie and lose everything he’s currently attempted to fix in life, even while learning a sobering lesson in absolute forgiveness.

Next, my Mind:

In this next regional indie project brought to life by the mother-daughter production team-up of Madhu and Priyanka Chopra along with director Karaan Guliani, there once again emerges a highly deft combination of socio-political and deeply human themes that are explored through the lead character’s journey from serious wrongdoing to redemption and absolution. Utilizing a visual presentation that doesn’t shy away from showing both the beauty and harder realities of Punjab, it’s exactly this realism, the far more grounded execution, which benefits the belief in Mithu’s plight and, ultimately, his own self-realizations. Additionally, the wonderfully portrayed act of desperately sought after reprieve and exoneration Mithu is bestowed from a truly unexpected source further adds potency to the character’s decisions and how they affect all those his odyssey touched. In the midst of this, a fantastically apropos music score accompanies events very well, too.

Gill delivers with total commitment and solid acting in his role as Mithu, a man seeking a real purpose in life, wanting to be acknowledged for what he’s contributing within his group of illicit friends, yet not finding it, and therefore forced to take matters into his own hands and rise above them.  However, when this only brings a worsening situation for him, Mithu is then compelled to leave what he’s known and try to start fresh, which he does, but only until his past catches up. His choices throughout are so varied, and at times erratic, but finally filled with hope, and Gill negotiates this wonderfully. Chahal is completely endearing and beautiful as Paali, a woman going through her own new adventures in life via an upcoming arranged marriage plan that gets a wrinkle thrown into the middle of it named Mithu, while showcasing an independent-minded and capable demeanor, a devotion to her family, and ultimately a stalwart fortitude when Mithu’s secret comes out.

Bawa’s Amreek is both a funny and almost tragic character to an extent, as the man promised to wed Paali, yet has to initially watch as that becomes potentially waylaid by the appearance of Mithu and his charming, rugged personality which captures Paali’s attention. Amreek’s involvement in political demonstrations gets him in trouble with some unsavory people, and his overtly amicable and non-confrontational nature certainly impedes him. But, in the long run, it serves him quite well, and Bawa’s enacting of his is marvelous. Supporting turns from Sajjan and Kaushal as Paali’s parents are effective here as well, with her father being the initial foil to Mithu’s intentions, while her mother totally adores him.  In total, with its excellent directing and production value along with the ever-present mix of humor and drama like many Indian films often contain, “Sarvann” stands as another excellent example of regional independent film that more than deserves to be noticed the world over.

As always, this is all for your consideration and comment.  Until next time, thank you for reading!



Leave a Reply