In India, the year 1984 was extra troublesome and was full of atrocities. Being a subdued democracy for a decade, it was obvious that the tension would eventually boil over. The sole reason for Operation Bluestar was the rise of militancy due to demands of a separate state of Khalistan. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s assassination resulted in widespread devastation which was only the beginning of the suffering as well as great sorrow of the Sikhs. Renowned poet and lyricist Gulzar wrote his own Greek tragedy Maachis by using all these atrocities happening in Punjab. And it was one of those rare, fiercely political movies from the 90s in Bollywood.
Realistic cinema may have become a bad word in recent times and has almost disappeared, but it was the film’s originality which made Maachis the masterpiece. Little details like Jaswant (played by Raj Zutshi) and Kripal (Chandrachur Singh) playing hockey in their home’s courtyard, to them munching fresh carrots and radish, brought an earthy reality to these characters. They might seem like unnecessary details in a movie about armed militia in 1980s Punjab, but these were the instances which made Gulzar’s story more genuine and grounded it around characters we could identify with and feel for.
Source : sdlcdn
The film which was released 20 years ago, goes on to follow its leading man, as he attempts to find out Khalistani militants after being disenchanted with the government’s law and order forces. He (Kripal) does this after his friend (Jaswant) is unfairly kept in custody and beaten up harshly. Like many wronged, infuriated men and women of Punjab in the 1980s, Kripal thinks violence is the only way to bring the people who carried out a harmful, illegal, or immoral act to justice. After all, these perpetrators are the very people responsible to ensure justice is delivered to the citizens countrywide.
Vishal Bhardwaj’s brilliant music score is one of the most amazing feature of Maachis. The songs like Chappa chappa charkha chale smell of the soil and the amusing thing is there isn’t even a single shot of a mustard field. The album also features Chhod aaye hum, Paani paani re, Ae hawaa and Tum gaye which perfectly reflects the slow burning flame within most of its characters and are super duper exciting.
Source : newsworldindia
This fantastic film directed by Gulzar, also features a fantabulous bunch of actors who have performed their characters perfectly. Apart from Chandrachur Singh and Tabu, the cast also features actors like the late Om Puri, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, an unknown and a pre-Mohabbatein Jimmy Shergill and Ravi Gossain. Tabu who was celebrated for her acting expertise, gave a masterclass as Kripal’s fiancée Veeran. Her excellent performance didn’t go futile though, as she was further casted in Vishal Bhardwaj’s Maqbool which is still considered her best performance. Interestingly, this was the same year Tabu also starred in David Dhawan’s Saajan Chale Sasural where she played Govinda’s love interest which are diametrically opposite roles.
It is a time when Bollywood is frequently dragged into politics, so it is imperative that now our films become political. It is essential that we look around and provide a social commentary on situations which Maachis did successfully. Gulzar’s film provided an effective and terrifying picture about why there was a rise in militancy in Punjab during the 1980s. It was a commentary again about how a privileged few, suppressed the working class in the name of religion and nationalism and exacerbate an explosive situation to riots among themselves.
More movies like Maachis are needed in Bollywood. Especially in the current political climate where the view of a position that is opposed to that of the majority has been suffocated. If not anything else, we really need cinema to give us the picture of the other side by making some epic films.