SET during the 1947 Partition, one the most traumatic events in Indian history, the film tells the story of Tara Singh a Sikh truck driver (Sunny Deol) and Sakina, a Muslim college girl (Amisha Patel).
The couple meet and become friends, but the tragic circumstances of Partition result in Tara Singh’s family being massacred by Muslims and Sakina being separated from her family during the chaotic rush to flee to the newly formed Pakistan.
The pair form a relationship after Tara rescues Sakina from being attacked and murdered by Indian vigilantes hell bent on revenge. Seeking comfort in each other’s loss, Tara and Sakina marry despite objections from society and begin to rebuild their shattered lives.
Fate deals a cruel blow years after Partition when Sakina finds out her family (whom she presumed were murdered en route to Pakistan) are actually alive and well. Sakina’s father, played by veteran Amrish Puri, persuades Sakina to come to Pakistan and reunite with her family. However, his plans do not include Tara and their young son.
Is love strong enough to withstand religious differences and can the effects of Partition ever be overcome? Director Anil Sharma skilfully deals with these and other questions by portraying what is basically a human story set against a horrific backdrop.
Sunny Deol and Amisha Patel put in excellent performances as the tragic lovers and both show they are more than capable of shedding the glitz and glamour associated with typical Bollywood masala films.
Historical accuracy is maintained with the inclusion of authentic sets, props and costumes and complimented by Uttam Singh’s melodic music score.
The disturbing but amazing cinematography of the opening scene, involving a train full of slain Sikhs, shocks the viewer with its’ brutality but aptly illustrates the dreadful atmosphere in which the love story develops.
Despite a slightly over-the-top and lengthy climatic battle scene in which Tara Singh single-handedly defeats scores of enemies, Sharma’s handling of a tricky subject matter is fairly sensitive.
However, due to the slightly controversial and patriotic subject matter, Gadar- Ek Prem Katha, like J P Dutta’s film Border, is bound to offend some Pakistani viewers.
While most people will walk away with the message that love sees no religious barriers, there will undoubtedly be some cinemagoers who will fail to agree.
Gadar- Ek Prem Katha is released nationwide on 15th June 2001 by Zee Films.
By Jaspreet Pandohar
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