Before Shorgul was released, it kicked up an interest. After all, it is centred on the communal riots that broke out in Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar in 2013, one of the worst episodes of violence in the state.
Jimmy Shergill stars in this socio-political drama as Ranjit Om, an ambitious MLA who tries to wield the political volatility of the state to his benefit. Ashutosh Rana, as Chaudhary, is a Western UP strongman who doesn’t support Om’s ideology. The two are at loggerheads, but things take a wild turn when Chaudhary’s son Raghu (Anirudh Dave) falls for Zainab (Suha Gezen).
The film – co-directed by Tiwari with P. Singh – is noisy, lacks finesse and depth, and the political machinations are diluted to irritating effect by too many loud songs and problematic production quality.
The film has arrived accompanied by a great deal of surround sound. But neither as cinema nor as political drama does it cut the mustard.
The only sequence in the 132-minute film that comes close to passing muster is the opening one.
In the dead of night, a mysterious man pulls down the shutter of a small-town shop, boards his scooter and rides to the door of an unidentified woman to hand her a loaded gun. Both have their faces covered.
Atmospherically dense, this scene not only arouses a fair bit of curiosity, it holds out the promise of interesting moments ahead.
But no sooner does it end than a dancer (guest star Hrishita Bhatt) slithers off the ground to belt out an item number that goes Mast hawa. Shorgul, which is indeed all weightless hot air, is quickly buried under the noise.
A couple of songs with lyrics by Congress politician Kapil Sibal that are unmemorable enough to merit this cliché: his writing is nothing to write home about.
The point is, the film’s story is believable. A Muslim girl called Zainab and a Hindu boy called Raghu grow up as friends. He falls in love with her but she is unaware of his feelings. When her fiancé Saleem discovers the truth, it leads to tension between all parties involved and ultimately, an unplanned act of violence that is used by Ranjeet Om to incite riots in the town.
Caught in the crossfire along with the youngsters is Raghu’s father, Chaudhary (Ashutosh Rana), a respected local leader who is constantly at loggerheads with Om.
Shorgul is so horridly ham-handed that it merits no rating as a film. But for the statement that it strives to make, no matter how feebly and incoherently, it deserves one star. And that is all it’s worth.
It is not this review’s case that Shorgul should be banned – of course it should not be. Question is, by what yardstick does its content not merit an A (restricted to adults) rating? And why the double standards?
Watch the trailer: