Too long for the material: that is the overall feel one gets after watching “Grahan,” a love story that took place in 1984 amidst the anti-Sikh riots in Bokaro, where that community members were killed systematically after the prime minister’s assassination.
Gursewak Singh (Pawan Malhotra) is an old and respected man in his town, where his daughter Amrita Singh (Zoya Hussain) is a very sincere police officer, in love with a man who is settled in Canada, and wants her to come and settle down there.
However, Amrita wants to excel in her field, and soon she is given charge of a special investigation (the film is based in 2016) into the aftermath of the 1984 riots. In Bokaro on this mission, Amrita soon learns that her father is one of the prime culprits in the anti-Sikh massacre.
She also discovers an innocent love story between Rishi (Anshuman Pushkar) and Manu (Wamiqa Gabbi) that happened then and led to a tragic separation in the follow-up of the riots. So what is the link between her father and Rishi?
The screenplay is thus multi-layered and includes the innocence of young love, the carnage that took place against the Sikhs, and with everything and everyone motivated by a callous labor leader named Sanjay Singh a.k.a. Chunnu (Teekam Joshi) for his own personal gain. 32 years later, in the present day of the story, Chunnu is an ambitious and unscrupulous politician. Naturally, he wants to save his own skin as soon as he comes to know of the investigations to come.
Amrita is supported in her work by a dedicated and very honest deputy, Vikas Mandal (Sahidur Rahaman), but when both of them come to know the shocking truth from Gursewak and the slimy politician comes back into the field, all hell breaks loose for Amrita, Gursewak and the few survivors of the 1984 attack.
The background music by Daniel B. George enhances the atmosphere along with his song “Teri Parchhayee,” and Amit Trivedi’s two songs, “Jogiya” and “Chori Chori” also register. The direction and script are both sensitive, but the film lingers for long on needless points and also goes into areas it should have eschewed for narrative crispness. The overlong 8-episode series thus loses quite a bit of sheen, impact-wise, though some individual sequences are graphic and even extremely disturbing.
The use of a love story to bring out human callousness, brutality and moral corruption is a smart move, and the performance honors are shared by the redoubtable Pawan Malhotra, Anshuman Pushkar, Zoya Hussain and that epitome of innocence in the film, Wamiqa Gabbi. Sahidur Rahaman is perfect, and so is Teekam Joshi as Chunnu, perfectly and chillingly manic. Donny Kapoor as the old Manu impresses. The rest of the cast is apt.
Here is a sensitive series that deserves encomiums for the concept (based on Satya Vyas’s story “Chaurasi”) and execution and some fine directorial touches and performances. With either shorter or lesser episodes, it could have been more impactful. But even as things stand, it makes a mark.
Created by: Shailendra Jha
Produced by: Ajay Rai
Directed by: Ranjan Chandel
Written by: Satya Vyas, Shailendra Jha, Prateek Payodhi, Vibha Singh, Ranjan Chandel, Karan Anshuman & Ananya Mody
Music: Amit Trivedi
Starring: Pawan Malhotra, Zoya Hussain, Anshuman Pushkar, Wamiqa Gabbi, Teekam Joshi, Namrata Varshney, Satyakam Anand, Donny Kapoor, Nandish Singh, Purva Parag, Sahidur Rahaman, Saharsh Kumar Shukla, Sukhwinder Chahal, Neelu Dogra, Anil Rastogi & others