Anil Sharma’s Gadar 2, a sequel to his smash hit Gadar: Ek Prem Katha (2001) that was set against the backdrop of the Partition, once again compels its protagonist Tara Singh (Sunny Deol) to set foot in Pakistan. This time around in 1971 to rescue his son from a sadistic army officer, Major General Hamid Iqbal (Manish Wadhwa). Thanks to the first film’s reputation and huge success, Gadar 2 has taken a bumper opening at the box-office. And while the film tries every trick in the book to play to the gallery, especially for single screen audiences, the film’s cinematic treatment appears dull, archaic and stuck in a time warp.
Gadar 2 begins with a brief introduction to the love story between Tara Singh and Sakeena (Ameesha Patel) from its predecessor. It then jumps to 1971 with fresh tensions between India and Pakistan even as Tara and Sakina are now happily settled in a small town in Punjab, close to the border with Pakistan. Their son, Charanjeet Singha or ‘Jeete’ (Utkarsh Sharma), is now a young man inclined towards performing plays. He wants to go to Mumbai and become an actor much to Tara’s disapproval. One fateful night, when Pakistani troops intrude into Indian territory, Tara is asked by Lieutenant Colonel Devendra (Gaurav Chopra) to deliver ammunition to Indian soldiers in the war zone. Tara bravely maneuvers his truck to the battlefield but he cannot save himself from an ambush and goes missing. The authorities inform Sakeena and Jeete that Tara might have been captured by the Pakistani army. Unable to bear his mother’s suffering, Jeete decides to cross over to Pakistan and bring his father back without letting her know. He crosses the border and makes his way to Lahore, where he starts working as a cook in the house of a wealthy restaurant owner, whose daughter Muskaan (Simrat Kaur) falls for him. She helps him on his mission despite knowing about his intentions. But both of them get caught by the Pakistani government and she is forced to make a difficult choice. Meanwhile, Tara returns home after recovering from his injuries. As Sakeena informs him that Jeete is in Pakistan, Tara decides to find Jeets and bring him back. He discovers that time is short as Jeete is to be publicly executed by the orders of Major General Hamid Iqbal (Manish Wadhwa), who wants to have his vengeance for Tara killing several of his soldiers in ’47…
First and foremost, you wonder why Gadar: Ek Prem Katha needed to have a sequel. And that too after more than two decades. But looking at the present situation in the country and seeing how the film uses the opportunity to demonise ‘the other’ and create further hatred for the Muslim community, you know exactly why. Hamid Iqbal is shown to be a caricaturish cardboard cut out psychotic individual while the cleric shown in the film is totally corrupt. And though the film gives a comic homage to the famous hand pump of the prequel when Tara being chased by a murderous mob in Gadar 2, this time around Tara takes recourse to Hindu mythology and uses a wheel from a cannon not unlike Lord Krishna’s Sudarshan chakra hurled at his Islamic enemies accompanied by verses from the Gita in the background! The film expectedly is highly jingoistic but without depth or any fresh perspective. Its script and treatment belong to another era and its predictability – we know Tara is going to rescue Jeete and Muskaan and bring them to India and we know each and every action sequence will be over the top with stunts that lack originality. With the film’s old-fashioned storytelling, even the ‘Hindustan Zindabad’ line in the climax falls flat.
In a film that runs on adrenaline and accepted notions of macho masculinity, the two female leads in the film, Sakeena and Muskan, have precious little to do. They are used as no more than objects of desire and are largely passive bystanders who are pushed to the background. When they are not putting up fabricated smiles on their faces while romancing with their men, they are shown as pathetic snivelling creatures and little else. Especially Sakeena, who had such an important role and screen time in the prequel, but is reduced here to a mere side character having minimal impact on the storyline. As for the romantic sequence, both couples suffer from tracks that are highly sugar-coated, melodramatic and fake.
Sunny Deol’s portrayal of Tara Singh showcases a familiar display of aggression and physicality, with several moments of yelling, slamming, and smashing. Perhaps the kindest thing one can say about his character is that between the two films, he has evolved from being a truck driver, who found strength in his love for his family to such an extent that he could even fight the Pakistani army, to a man who can now fire from machine guns and pelt grenades like the most seasoned of soldiers. Utkarsh Sharma, the son of director Anil Sharma, despite getting enough screen time, falls short in his performance, unable to handle the different shades of his role. As the antagonist, Manish Wadhwa is badly defeated by his unidimensional role. Even his back story of losing his family to the Partition violence fails to add any depth or nuance to his character. But most disappointingly, Ameesha Patel’s turns in a rusty performance that is as outmoded as the film.
The overused generic camera elements employed by cinematographer Najeeb Khan make the camerawork appear stale and uninspired. The editing by Ashfaq Makrani and Sanjay Sankla tries desperately to keep the engagement level with its rapid pace and sharp cuts but falls short of achieving a coherent rhythmic flow, thereby making the storytelling appear disjointed. The climax sequence, in particular, feels abrupt to say the least. The background score by Monty Sharma is (expectedly) loud and adds to the noise factor of the film. On the other hand, the songs by Mithoon resonate long after the film ends. The reprised as well as the original compositions manage to give Gadar 2 some much-needed emotional heft that is sorely missing in the screenplay. Muneesh Sappal’s production design creates the period of the film quite well.
Overall, Gadar 2 successfully incorporates all the elements of a typical crowd-pleaser in the majoritarian India of today. Yet, it falls woefully short in capturing the impact of the earlier film. The prequel has given Gadar 2 the perfect start it needed at the box office and it would be interesting to see if the film sustains its run post the opening weekend and the holiday that follows. For cinematically, it has to be said, Gadar 2 leaves much to be desired.
Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu, Drama, Action, Color