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Friday, June 20, 2008

Summer 2007 rating and reviews

Director: Suhail Tatari
Cast: Sikander, Gul Panag, Uvika Chowdhary, Arjan Bajwa, Ashutosh Rana
Rating: 3/5

Summer 2007 is as unpredictable as the Mumbai rains and once it starts off, it shows no signs of ceasing. That’s perhaps why this film may fall short of expectations, but kudos to a first time director and producer to invest in such a film.

The film talks of the Indian youth, sitting snug in the urban environment, oblivious to the plight of rural India which feeds one of the biggest economies in the world. The film starts off as a campus caper, indulges into college politics, shifts focus to issues in rural India, talks about ruthless landlords and calls for a change as it concludes.

Here’s a group of five medical college students (with nicknames showcasing the yuppie American lifestyle that we are fast adapting) who have a carefree approach to life and consider themselves cool. Rahul aka Butter (Sikandar) is the group-leader who had a failed relationship with Priyanka aka Pepsi (Uvika Chowdhary). Qateel aka Kats (Arjan Bajwa) is the Casanova while Bagani aka Bugs (Alekh Sangal) is the despo dude. The munificent Mother T aka Vishaka (Gul Panag) completes the company.

Post a futile romance track dealt in a flashback between Sikandar and Uvika, a university election episode triggers off the main issue that the film maker wants to focus on. To escape the unnecessary complications of elections, the group shifts to the interiors of rural Maharashtra in a village stuck by farmer suicide.
And typical of today’s college youth that the director is wanting to showcase, the five plan a vacation to Goa, while officially they are supposed to work as interns in the village hospital. Until they awake to the piteous plight of the poverty-struck people there through the village doctor Mukya (Ashutosh Rana).

And while the story concentrates on the upliftment of the underprivileged, it also brings to light the role of the cruel zamindar (Vikram Gokhale) and his archetypal debauched son (Prosshant Narayanan) who torment the villagers with excessive-interest rate credits. But instead of just highlighting the problem, the film maker has attempted to find a solution for the poverty stricken farmers. Reformed criminal (Sachin Khedekar) offers monetary solution to the oppressed in the form of micro-credit loans, which in reality won Dr. Mohammad Younus from Bangladesh the Nobel Peace Prize.

The issue it chooses is noble and novel and also, to an extent, the approach is decent. The director has convincingly worked on the transition of the protagonists from carefree collegians to concerned citizens.

Debutante Suhail Tatari’s direction is intermittently impressive and he does derive decent performances from the cast. Ashutosh Rana is the scene-stealer in his resourcefully restrained act. Despite his clich├ęd characterization, Prosshant Narayanan strikes with a natural performance. Gul, Arjan and Uvika are fair. Alekh’s quest to lose his virginity does irritate occasionally. Sikandar once again surprises us with his screen presence and casual air of indolence that speaks volumes of his mastery of his craft in such a short time.

Comparisons to Rang De Basanti are inevitable. But unlike the pedestal of a score by AR Rahman, a production house like UTV, a director like Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra and the magic of Aamir Khan, Summer 2007 is made on a modest platform, but the affect is the same.

Three stars for the film maker and its actors, but many more stars for bringing to light the state of affairs of the Indian farmer, who struggles to find his place in a news scenario which is dominated by eyeballs for glitz and glamour.

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