A man’s struggle for identity can be an absorbing story. Uplifting even, if it is connected with a country’s freedom struggle. Gour Hari’s ‘dastaan’, based on the quest of a real-life character, has all the elements that could have made it all this and more, but it comes off flat and dull.
Gour Hari Das ( Pathak) needs to convince his son that he was, indeed, a freedom fighter. That he did indeed take part in the Free India movement as a teenager in Orissa, in the mid 40s. He begins doing the rounds of callous `sarkaari’ offices, and by the end of his endless grind, facing in equal measure disinterest and disbelief, he is in need of that conviction himself. His wife ( Sen Sharma) is a sympathetic if understandably sick-of-the-whole-thing bystander. If you do not have a certificate to prove it, did your slice of lost past really happen?
An encounter with two `Mid-Day’ journalists, one played by Shorey in a thick beard-and-forehead-fringe and buoyed by an inexplicable dislike for ‘feminists’ ( some of his comments are downright offensive), and his colleague by an under-lip-pierced Chatterjee, helps Gour Hari and his predicament get space in -the tabloid.
There are valid sentiments expressed during the film. As we see the shocking ignorance and apathy of those who are meant to be custodians of our country and its history, we keep hearing these lines: is this the nation we fought so bitterly for? Were the British really better? But those thoughts are raised in the most banal way.
Despite the news coverage, Gour Hari’s struggle continues. And so does ours, because the film is so listless and so lacking in drama, that it never manages to grab our interest from the get go. Nor hold it, as it drags on.
Cast: Vinay Pathak, Ranvir Shorey, Tannishtha Chatterjee, Konkona Sen Sharma
Director: Ananth Mahadevan