By Troy Ribeiro
Film: “Gaon”; Director: Gautam Sigdar; Cast: Shadab Kamal, Neha Mahajan, Gopal Singh, Rohit Pathak, Dibyendu Bhattachraya, Omkar Das Manikpuri, Shishir Sharma, Praveena Deshpande, Ravikant Mishra; Rating: ** (2 stars)
Director Gautam Sigdar’s “Gaon” is an interestingly conceptualised satire that nudges us to understand civilisation and progress. It attempts to showcase, in a nutshell, the journey of our country and answers the question, when one rants, “Vikas apnane mein nuksan kya hai?”
The film tells us that civilisation cannot merely be a growing totality of happenings that by chance have assumed a particular shape and tendency which we consider to be excellent.
It must be the expression of some guiding moral force which we have evolved in our society for the object of attaining perfection.
Bharat (Shadab Kamal) works for a Bank and lives with his parents in Mumbai. His dad’s last wish was to have his ashes scattered over Tamasen River. Never having heard about this river, he asks his mother who in turn briefs him about his ancestors who had settled in a self-reliant village called Bharat — a village which is untouched by progress in the world and where everyone contributes towards the well-being of the rest of the villagers.
The village Bharat and the man Bharat, represent diametrically opposite interpretation of ideas and so when Bharat, the lad from Mumbai, lands in a village and tries to transform the villagers, there is dramatic transformation. For better or worse, the debate is put to rest by the director’s stance on capitalism and conservation.
With moderate production values, the film is significantly well-mounted. The direction is astute, but the plot moving on an even keel, lacks the zing of a good narrative. Also the scenes are laden with verbose expositions.
On the performance front, every actor plays their part meticulously. But the ones who stand out in the crowd are: Shadab Kamal as Bharat, Gopal as Vaidji the village leader, Neha Mahajan as his daughter Sango and Bharat’s love interest, Rohit Pathak as the rebel Mangala, Omkar Das Manikpuri as the villager Shambu.
The background score seamlessly meshes with the narrative and elevates the viewing experience. And the song at the end is soulfully mellifluous. It does evoke a subtle sense of patriotism especially when the film is promoted as “Gaon: The Village no more”.