By Saurin Parikh
It’s amazing how the really good stories somehow get pushed into oblivion and the most dumb ones get marketed like crazy and become ‘hits’. Every year, Bollywood churns out the worst movies that are ever made. If there was an award for the highest number of crappy movies made, Bollywood would win hands down. The essence of any movie is its story; our filmmakers tend to forget that, even a majority of the celebrated hit-makers. Thankfully, there are a few who make movies with strong storylines, but such movies never receive the attention, or the audience, that they should. Road To Sangam is one such movie.
A simple story, told poignantly, with a straight-forward message is Road To Sangam. Hashmat Ullah is a devout Muslim living in Allahbad. A mechanic by profession, he receives a vintage Ford engine to repair. At that time, the city is rocked by a bomb blast and a number of innocent Muslims taken into custody. In protest, the local Muslim leaders call for a bandh, which leaves Hashmat in a quandary. The engine is supposed to be fitted into the vintage van that will carry the last ashes of Mahatma Gandhi to the holy river Sangam. Torn between the order of his community and his duty towards the nation, Hashmat decides that he needs to finish working on the engine. He faces the ire of his clan for this decision, but doesn’t give up. Saying that love makes everything right, Hashmat attempts to make the others see his way.
Paresh Rawal as Hashmat Ullah and Omi Puri as the head of the community are stand-out performers. If our popular awards jury really wanted to give out awards for acting, Paresh Rawal would win for this one. There’s a twinkle in his eyes, there’s charm in his mannerisms, there’s emotions in his dialogue delivery. He’s particularly superb in the scene where he talks to his wife about being let down by his close friends. This is one of Rawal’s most genuine performances, he is a true hero. Pawan Malhotra’s portrayal of the preachy Muslim leader is something to look out for as well.
Writer-director Amit Rai has done a superb job with the screenplay and direction of Road To Sangam. It could have been edited a bit more, but that’s his call. And for the overall outcome, Road To Sangam doesn’t have a flaw to write about. The music has been used well, especially Gandhi’s bhajans at times when you know what is happening is not right. You have a heart of stone if Road To Sangam doesn’t burn up your patriotic instincts. What the director has done really well is bring together two seemingly different angels (Muslim and Gandhi) and show us why their inherent Indian-ness connects them.
I saw Road To Sangam a couple of days back on DVD and I knew I had to write about it. It is a definite must watch for everyone who is tired of the hogwash that stays in theatres for weeks and weeks. Those who actually do like that hogwash should watch Road To Sangam to understand what a quality movie is.
Read more reviews by Saurin on Review Catalogue