Direction:Anil ‘Gadar’ Sharma
Production:Rahul Sughand, Sangeeta Ahir
Starring : Anil ‘Gadar’ Sharma
Dharmendra, Sunny Deol, Bobby Deol, Katrina Kaif, Shilpa Shetty, Kirron Kher, Victor Banerjee, Javed Sheikh (Pakistan), Aryan Vaid
As a director when you have a story that brings together a real life family and a background set in Punjab, it is easy to fall into the trap of making endless trips to ‘sarson ke khet’, get into the ‘mummyji papaji’ mode, indulge into some ‘desi ghee ke paranthe’ and sing along ‘hum saath saath hain’!
Anil Sharma doesn’t do any of these and this is where the beauty of APNE lies!
He plays his game as real as possible and this is the reason why APNE turns out to be one of those rare flicks that doesn’t look gimmicky at all in spite of an entire Deol family coming together on screen for the first time ever. Not just that, Sharma makes his characters real and believable on screen that makes his battle half won.
To set things straight, APNE is clearly a Dharmendra movie. Period. 5 minutes into the film and the picture is clear that this is going to be Dharmendra’s show all the way. He is present in entire flick, give or take a couple of scenes, but don’t expect him to get into a ‘dharam-dharam’ mode.
Since the film follows a believable route, Dharmendra plays a man his age who has seen life and has some regrets from it due to the false accusations that were laid on him when he was a heavyweight boxing champion decades back. An emotional man who doesn’t shy away from dropping more than just a tear or two, he follows his heart more than anything else while looking for just a right heir whom he could train and feel the pride yet again.
The family’s condition makes his elder son [Sunny] believe that boxing couldn’t really provide means to earn a living while his younger son [Bobby] was helpless due to a partially maimed arm as a result of an accident in his childhood. This made him turn over to an eager-to-learn young man [Aryan Vaid] who aspired the same dreams of being a World Champion.
Even as the young man moves on to seek greener pastures, Bobby turns savior as his arm miraculously gets back into shape, in a few months time he becomes a globally renowned face and now he has one final hurdle to cross before he gets his father’s pride back – World Champion Luka!
But that wasn’t the case to be as he finds himself injured after a fierce battle in the ring. The man who now becomes the challenger? Yes, you guessed it right – Sunny!
Highlight of the film is the spark that is visible whenever Dharamendra and Sunny share the same frame. While Sunny makes an utmost attempt to appease his father who hasn’t forgiven him since the day he decided to goodbye boxing, Dharmendra gets the emotions right when it comes to projecting the love-hate feelings for his son.
In fact it is a soothing feeling to see Sunny not clench his fists except for the last reels in the film and instead play a man who is seeking love from his father. Watch him get all moist eyed after most of his interactions with his father and you would know why. Meanwhile Bobby underplays his part quite well and gives a good realistic performance.
As emotional moments dominate the first half of the film, second half is full on adrenalin as majority of the 1.5 hours that follow are embellished with fights in the ring. While the first major fight between Aryan and Bobby is well shot, narrative reach an all time high with the introduction of Luka. The man has a very good screen presence while his dialogue delivery deserves a special mention too. Though 99% of Hindi movies have projected a foreign import villain as a parody of sorts, it is not the case with the actor as he has some notable scenes out of the ring as well and justifies his presence completely.
The graph of the film continues to only move up throughout the second half as the entire family starts comes together, moments of ecstasy, anxiety and pride follow with everything coming good in the end. In the life of the Deols are Shilpa Shetty, Katrina Kaif and Divya Dutta who have absolutely nothing to contribute to the film’s plot even though Kirron Kher has the maximum screen time across all ladies and gives yet another natural performance.
Cinematography of the film is of standard as the man behind the camera first captures Punjab in natural shades and later makes Canada look beautiful. But his best work is reserved for the sequences on the ring as he gets an international touch to the way frames are captured with an effective handling of multiple cameras. This is the part where the sound recordist and the background music composer also deserve brownie points since there is not a moment that passes by without a chill going down your spine. Chris Anderson’s choreography of boxing sequences is par excellence.
Himesh Reshammiya’s music goes well with the film with the title song ‘Apne’ being the best of the enterprise. It plays throughout the film and makes an impression in each of the situations. Dialogues are real life though for the Deol fans there is some writing reserved for the last 30 minutes of the film when there are ample opportunities for seetis and taalis.
On paper APNE appears to be a simple story. It in fact truly is and it is to the credit of Sharma that he handles the subject with utter sincerity and fills the near 3 hour film with numerous emotional and heartwarming moments that make APNE a piece of work that one normally one doesn’t associate with him.
Audience has known Sharma as the man behind films like GADAR or THE HERO. Watch APNE and you would realize that he also knows how to get the right sentimental moments on screen.