Lonely souls in Picket 43

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Prithviraj and Javed Jaffrey play soldiers posted on either sides of the border in Major Ravi’s new film Picket 43, Deepa Gauri writes

By Deepa Gauri

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Published: Thu 12 Feb 2015, 7:57 PM

Last updated: Fri 10 Feb 2023, 12:46 PM

Major Ravi has made a remarkable comeback with Picket 43, now playing at theatres in the UAE. The film, starring Prithviraj and Javed Jaffrey, posted on either sides of the border has its share of patriotic fervour – the trademark of the director. Yet at the core, it is a humane film, delving into the psyche of soldiers in solitary settings.

The first certified hit of the year, Picket 43 has several pluses to it that are driving audiences to the theatres. Highlighting the care that Prithviraj gives in his choice of roles, the film has been appreciated for the heartwarming performance of the actor – who plays a low-ranking soldier posted to Picket 43, which has a sad history of soldiers serving there being killed or psychologically wrecked.

After all, they have no one for company and all around is the sweeping, uninhabited moutainscape. But worse is the potential for cross-border firing, with the soldier being left to fend for himself largely through his presence of mind than arms, ammunition or back-up.

Picket 43, much like the JP Dutta sagas of Bollywood and as with all Major Ravi films, belts out its dose of patriotism as well as the emotional mush of soldiers leaving behind their yearning wives and families. Well, true as it all rings, filmmakers seldom come up with any creative twist to these mundane situations.

As one might see in the patriotic movies from India, invariably it is at the end of a romantic song, when the hero and heroine seem to be in absolute bliss that a phone call or telegram comes in asking for the soldier to turn up for duty. What follows are the mandatory tears, the violin going on overblast, the hero’s moist eyes, and then a loud statement on ‘yes, I have to serve my duty.’

While Major Ravi continues on the same note, where he makes a well-crafted departure is in how he charts the life of the lonely soldier. He has to trek kilometres on rough terrain and finally take up position in a makeshift tent, trying to be alert for enemy gunfire. Major Ravi also takes a departure in presenting the ‘other side’ with more objectivity. Here, the role of the ‘enemy soldier’ is entrusted to Javed Jaffrey, who has got one of his career-best roles in a Malayalam language film.

The two, no doubt, get first into bickering mode and raise a few patriotic cries before realising that at the end of the day, they share more similarities than differences. Both are missing their families and while both love their countries, they prefer peace than war.

Picket 43 then builds on the bonding of the two soldiers and how they navigate the tricky territory of being enemies yet friends. With fantastic visuals, and being relatively short at just over two hours, the film does not slack its tempo before concluding with a nail-biting climax that critics say has been the best to come out of Malayalam cinema in years.

So, if this weekend, you care for a dose of patriotic fervour while also learning about the lives of soldiers in lonely settings, Picket 43 is highly recommended. And watch out for Javed Jaffrey’s compelling performance that at times manages to steal the thunder from Prithviraj.

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