I - Proud To Be An Indian - Movie Review


No, it's not PURAB AUR PACHHIM – an Indian [Manoj Kumar] humiliated by Indians settled in U.K. [Saira Banu, Pran, Prem Chopra].

No, it's not on the lines of LAGAAN either – a defiant villager [Aamir Khan] challenges the Britishers for a game of cricket to abolish the tax levied upon the villagers.

In I – PROUD TO BE AN INDIAN, director Puneet Sira tackles a theme that has not been witnessed on the Hindi screen before – racism in U.K. Though the theme is alien for Indian cinegoers, it exists in reality.

The skinheads espouse violence, sometimes fighting amongst themselves in their pubs and sometimes practising particularly violent and racist attacks on coloured immigrants, which they call 'Paki bashing'.

I – PROUD TO BE AN INDIAN does manage to keep you captivated mainly because the rawness depicted succeeds in proving a point – so important in a film like this!

All the same, the violent story may not appeal to the ladies/family audiences or those looking for feel-good cinema. After all, films that depict harsh realities of life do have their limitations!

I [Sohail Khan] and his father [Kulbhushan Kharbanda] migrate to London to stay with I's elder brother [Aasif Sheikh] and his family.

Once in London, I discovers that the Asian families are living a terrified life thanks to the local skinheads. The dreaded Cane [Tim Lawrence], the leader of the skinheads, believes that their country England is being taken over by the Asian community.

Cane represents this new bunch of the so-called Neo Nazis who preach racism. They hate any other skin colour other than white.

I decides to fight for their [Asian community] rights. I beats up some of the skinheads and Cane takes offence to it, deputing even more skinheads to retaliate. The problem only aggravates…

For those who're unaware that racism exists on foreign land, especially in U.K., I – PROUD TO BE AN INDIAN is an eye-opener of sorts. The film tries hard to be as realistic as possible – presenting the ugly side of the West – and the execution of these sequences do keep you on tenterhooks, sending a chill down your spine at times.

Director Puneet Sira shakes you up at the very start of the film – when a bunch of skinheads pounce on a couple on a lonely street. The subsequent incidents – the skinheads' altercations with Mona Ambegaonkar, Kulbhushan Kharbanda and the child artist [enacting the role of Sohail's nephew in the film] – are horrifying to say the least.

Besides, the sequence of events that lead to a violent climax are well penned and well executed. The climax is amongst the best parts of the enterprise. Though the concluding 20 minutes are extremely violent, the director has tactfully woven emotions and patriotism in the goings-on, resultantly stimulating the viewer no end.

In style and ambition, Sira seems inspired by Rajkumar Santoshi's works, mainly GHAYAL. The protagonist's [Sohail] characterisation and his outbursts are akin to those witnessed in Santoshi's first flick. Even the concluding reels, when Sohail and the skinhead come to blows in front of an entire gathering, remind you of that film again.

The comparisons notwithstanding, Sira is a director to watch. His style of storytelling is novel. He doesn't beat around the bush, but comes to the point straightaway. One can look forward to his films.

On the flip side, the violent theme and the hammer-strong impact of some sequences will prove a major deterrent and might compel the weak-hearted to abstain from watching this flick. In fact, for the ladies/family audiences, sequences that depict the skinheads' evil side [especially when the skinheads murder a pregnant woman at the very start of the film or when they harass and urinate on Mona Ambegaonkar's shopping bag] won't be taken very kindly.

There's no scope for music in a film like this. Yet, the makers have incorporated a few songs in the narrative, which takes the graph of the film downwards. Even otherwise none of the songs register any impact whatsoever.

Cinematography is quite okay. The background score is highly effective. Dialogues are first-rate.

I – PROUD TO BE AN INDIAN should prove to be a turning point in Sohail Khan's career. The youngster takes giant strides as an actor and emerges trumps. If he made people notice the brawn in his first film [MAINE DIL TUJHKO DIYA], he'll make people notice the histrionics in I – PROUD TO BE AN INDIAN.

Kulbhushan Kharbanda excels in a significant role. His expressions soon after Cane has attacked him prove that only a veteran could've carried off the role so well. Aasif Sheikh gets immense scope to perform and he does leave an impression. Mona Ambegaonkar is a revelation. She enacts her part with utmost conviction.

Heena Tasleem [Sohail's sweetheart in the film] is alright. Tim Lawrence [Cane] looks apt for the part. Imran Ali Khan looks good and suits the role, but brushing up his acting skills and diction would only help him.

On the whole, I – PROUD TO BE AN INDIAN caters to that segment of viewers who appreciate violent, realistic, hard-hitting films. At the box-office, the film holds appeal for the urban audiences mainly.