Cast:Manoj Bajpai,Ravi KissenDirection:Amrit SagarProduction:Moti SagarMusic:Akash Sagar
You don’t expect anything at all while venturing in to watch 1971. And how could you? After all LOC – KARGIL wasn’t quite impressive while another film about POWs – DEEWAR – LET’S BRING OUR HEROES home just turned out to be overtly heroic. If the poor fate of these two films wasn’t enough, AB TUMHAARE HAWAALE WATAN SAATHIYO didn’t even get an opening inspite of the presence of Amitabh Bachchan, Akshay Kumar and Bobby Deol.
This is what makes you wonder what would 1971 have to offer with lesser stars like Manoj Bajpai and Ravi Kishan along with a bunch of newcomers and a first time director at the helm. With near to negligible promotion and absolutely zilch hype, 1971 was always meant to be a non-starter.
Well, it is a non-starter, but strictly on box office terms, because as a film it surprises you and more than that takes you on 2 hour adventurous ride that has enough thrills, action and drama with an undercurrent of emotions throughout the proceedings to keep you entertained. Yes, it does enlighten you by telling a tale that could be truth but all this is done in a dramatic manner without getting into a preachy, jingoistic or pseudo-patriotic mode.
1971 is about 6 POWs Manoj Bajpai (Major Suraj Singh), Ravi Kishan (Captain Jacob), Deepak Dobriyal (Flight Lt. Gurtu), Kumud Mishra (Captain Kabir), Chitaranjan Giri (Subedar Ahmed) and Manav Kaul (Flight Lt Ram). Together they are lodged in Pakistani camp and after years of living in frustration with a hope of returning back to their homes, they decide to make an escape.
The odds were certainly against them but each of them had a mission, purpose and an aim to achieve the impossible. And what followed from here on was a saga of bravery, courage, patriotism and sacrifice that is dramatic, thrilling, emotional and yet quite entertaining. You feel for the ongoing proceedings on the screen but do get a lump in your throat too!
On paper, 1971 has a basic plot, something on the lines of Hollywood classic THE GREAT ESCAPE. It is the execution that makes the film an enjoyable experience since each of the major factors that make a film – script, dialogues, background music, cinematography, narrative and last but not the least, convincing acts – are top notch here.
Even though the film is not mounted extravagantly, it is to the credit to director Amrit Sagar that he makes best use of the available resources and doesn’t cut corners when it comes to telling a scene efficiently and effectively.
Good part of 1971 is that it doesn’t spend much time in getting into an extensive background details of the 6 lead protagonists. He keeps it to the point, as much as is required for the film and the audience, and gets to the point right away. There is just the right build up to the tale and where Amrit Sagar succeeds well is making the second half of 1971 a really gripping fare.
So many times have we seen that a film starts off well and remains good till the interval before the effect fizzles out towards the latter reels. It is just the opposite in case of 1971 as after a decent beginning, the drama builds up well to make you look forward to what would happen next on screen.
You know that there would be a chase, the Pakistanis would follow, the terrain would be rough and it would be near to impossible for the Indians to reach home safely. And still, you want the impossible to happen. Now this is where the script and screenplay excels since you keep yourself engrossed with the proceedings while hoping that something miraculous would save the protagonists.
Acting is consistent across board with each of the actors, whether the protagonists or others, in big or small roles, giving their best to the film. One must applaud the director and the production team of 1971 for showing faith in these actors and making them give their best even to a medium level film like this.
As mentioned earlier, areas like background music [Akash Sagar], cinematography [Chirantan Das] and action [Sham Kaushal] are top notch, especially considering the canvas of the film.
In short, 1971 is a film that would keep your adrenalin pumping as director Amrit Sagar spins a hold-on-to-your-seat-belts tale that is entertaining and eminently enjoyable piece of cinema. If you have liked films like SAVING PRIVATE RYAN and BLACK HAWK DOWN, you would like 1971 too since like each of the two mentioned films, 1971 is more about human side of soldiers and the war they fight rather than projecting them as superheroes who have never set a foot wrong.