Gadar: Ek Prem Katha, a project with a mediocre director (Anil Sharma) at the helm and an unconvincing romantic pair (Sunny Deol and Amisha Patel) as the lead, actually surpasses expectations and turns out to be a very entertaining film, complete with a good story ( inspired by Shaheed Uddam Singh), good music, and fantastic performances from the lead pair. Sunny Deol and Amisha Patel star in this period romance about a Sikh truck driver and an aristocratic Muslim girl falling in love amidst the chaos of 1947´s partition. Despite its flaws, Gadar still manages to be good entertainment, compared to the garbage being churned out weekly by Bollywood.
Amongst the racial riots that erupt in the city, Tara shelters a wayward Sakina from a crazed mob and a bond that blossoms into love is created. The two eventually get married and have a son. The happy family, now living in Delhi, gets the shock of their lives when Sakina learns that her father (Amrish Puri), whom she previously believed died in the racial riots back in Lahore, is still alive after seeing his picture in a tattered, old newspaper. Upon contacting him, Sakina´s father, now the mayor of Lahore in Pakistan, arranges for his daughter to arrive in Lahore to see him. Sakina leaves for Lahore minus Tara and her son, and upon reaching the city, learns of her father´s plans for her - plans that include forcing Sakina to forget about her family and start life anew in Pakistan.
First and foremost, let me say that the Sunny-Amisha pairing is not as awkward as I felt it would be prior to viewing the film. The circumstances around which Sakina and Tara fall in love after he saves her during a riot are convincingly told. Furthermore, I would have never guessed that newcomer Amisha Patel would come up with such a gem of a performance in Anil Sharma´s sweeping period romance. Though the actress delivered an above-average performance in last year´s biggest hit Kaho Na Pyar Hai…, she received little attention after the film´s release, when the whole world´s eyes were on Hrithik Roshan, her heartthrob costar. Nevertheless, Amisha has all the earmarks of becoming a top-bracket actress. She has the looks, confidence, and more importantly, the talent to reach the sky. She lacks rival Kareena Kapoor´s awful attitude and prefers to let her work speak for herself, rather than a family name. And her fantastic work in this film, a potential hit at the BO, shows that she is here to stay. Patel is definitely an actress who, if she continues her rise, will reach the likes of performers like Tabu, Manisha Koirala, or even Kajol. Her costar, the ever-dependable Sunny Deol, down but not out from the failures of Dillagi and Champion, has struck gold with Gadar. His solid performance in this film is sure to win him accolades across the board. Amrish Puri supports well in a role tailor-made for him as Sakina´s treacherous father.
Uttam Singh´s music is a nice accompaniment to this beautifully shot film, especially "Ud Jaa Kaale Kauve". The music director hasn´t delivered good music since Yash Chopra´s Dil To Pagal Hai and Pooja Bhatt´s Dushman, but shows that he still is a force to reckon with. The Punjabi flavor is a nice touch to the soft, soothing melodies, without the excessive noise and excitement of most bhangra numbers. The film is technically superb and looks very beautiful on screen, though it could have done with a little more editing, as some portions in the second half are hardly necessary. This is Zee´s first big budget venture and the amount of money poured into it shows. The costumes, sets, etc. - everything fits the period of the film properly.
Anil Sharma, after the disasterous Maharaja delivers a good film and shows his panache as a director. The scenes showing the havoc and violence in Lahore and the sheer chaos during the partition are handled very sensitively by Sharma, as are the heavy, dramatic scenes, including the climax.
The film has its share of faults, like a screenplay filled with liberties and a few misplaced song numbers (Expected from a film these days, unfortunately!), but despite some minute situational flaws, Gadar is still worth watching. Overall, Gadar: Ek Prem Katha will probably end up being a hit, despite strict competition from another period drama, Aamir Khan´s Lagaan. The film has repeat value and will definitely do well. Many readers might go see Lagaan first this weekend, but don´t ignore this nice period romance. Gadar is for keeps.