Release Date: 21 October, 2016
Directed by: Shivaji Lotan Patil
Produced by: Harry Sachdeva
Starring: Soha Ali Khan, Vir Das, Vineet Sharma, Deepraj Rana, Lakha Lakhwinder Singh, Pritam Kagne, Nagesh Bhonsle
Cinematography: Ramani Ranjan Das
Music Label: Zee Music Company
Duration: 1 hour 49 minutes
Genre: History, Drama
About 31st October
The assassination of PM Indira Gandhi in October 1984 by her Sikh bodyguard was the opening of one of the darkest chapters of post-independence history. For three long days armed mobs ravaged Sikh colonies and establishments, torturing and killing members of the community.
This is the first time mainstream Indian cinema has decided to take a look at the gross injustice and ghastly treatment meted out to the Sikhs at the time. National Award-winning director, Shivaji Lotan Patil tried to take on a movie that could have been cathartic for a community denied justice to this day. 31st October falls well short of this end.
Plot of 31st October
31st October is the story of an average middle class Sikh family in the national capital and the trauma and horrors experienced by its members in the wake of Indira Gandhi’s assassination.
The day starts innocently enough as Davinder Singh (Vir Das), an employee of the DESU (Delhi Electricity Supply Undertaking) sends his sons off to school and heads to work while his wife Tejinder Kaur (Soha Ali Khan) goes about her household routine. Within a matter of hours their lives are grotesquely torn apart as are the lives of other Sikh families in the city. As news of the PM’s assassination starts to trickle down, the world around turns into one bloodthirsty mob out to get their lives and honour. The film depicts the sheer savagery of the mob fuelled by vile politicians while policemen watch on.
31st October is the kind of film that should have made people sit up and take notice. It should have been a portrayal of the gruesome horrors that we subject our own people to; it should have been a heart wrenching tale; it should have been a lesson for the younger generation to stand united irrespective of a fellow-Indian’s religion or caste. It was none of these.
The film clearly fails to pack a punch. It remains yet another insipid tale that fails to outgrow the lukewarm performance of its lead actors. Vir Das simply fails – his director, the film, and his audience. Sha lends credible support but is unable to carry the film through.
31st October is a story that needs to be told. It is the story that festers in our hearts as a wound that refuses to heal . There are times when the movie holds out sparks and strikes a chord with those who have lived through those days of horror. Minor actors help the cinema stay propped up while some members of the lead cast give way.
Lousy screenplay (which is a surprise considering the director’s track record). Vir Das must make a sincere attempt to stick to comedy. His wooden expressions left much of Davinder Singh’s story untold.
31st October must be watched. Not for the director, the actors, the screenplay, the story, or the effects. It must be watched for the theme alone. Lest we forget. That there are, among us, many Davinder Singhs and Tejinder Kaurs. And many were forcefully taken away by mindless violence.
31st October Rating **
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