With its title derived from the song from the 1967 release Upkarthe well-meaning, inspiring and unassuming Mere Desh Ki Dharti is intended to stir up a patriotic envy among its audience, which it does to some extent.
A conceptual film designed to revolutionize youth, the story reflects contemporary Indian society. This reflects the anguish of the country’s young people and the divide between the countryside and the cities. It also offers a solution for a better future.
Film: Mere Desh Ki Dharti (Theatrical release)
Duration: 145 minutes
With : Divyendu Sharma, Anupriya Goenka, Anant Vidhaat, Inaamulhaq, Rutuja Shinde, Rajesh Sharma, Brijendra Kala, Atul Srivastava, Farrukh Jaffar, Annu Kapoor
Director: Faraz Haider
Shallowly and formally mounted with a numbers plot, the tale follows the journey of young engineers Ajay (Divyendu Sharma) and his friend Sameer (Anant Vidhaat) from abject urban failures to icons of rural India.
Bogged down by a college loan, with no opportunity to make a reasonable living, and no funding for a start-up, Ajay and Sameer are driven to abject misery and attempt suicide.
But after a failed attempt to jump onto the tracks, under a moving train, they decide to board a train and find an idyllic place and time, to give up their lives, but fate has other plans for them.
The second act takes place in Salamatpur in Madhya Pradesh. Our heroes land there by chance, where they are exposed to the great Indian reserve and kindness that binds the culture of India’s vast subcontinental landscape.
Here they meet a garishly dressed Pappan Khan (Inamul Haq), a good soul who mistakes them for someone else and takes them to his village and home, where they meet farmers pushed into poverty and harassed by loan sharks. How the duo become the villagers’ messiah is at the heart of this tale.
The final act with Annu Kapoor at the helm seems like a rushed job of ending the film on a patriotic note.
The film is the canvas of Divyendu Sharma and Anant Vidhaat. Like Ajay and Sameer, they are both sincere and natural in their performances.
Anupriya Goenka as Ajay Jumki’s love interest and Rutuja Shinde as Sameer Shilpa’s love interest, they have a minor role in the overall framework of the narrative, and they deliver their chops with all seriousness.
In Salamatpur, the carefully observed characters, mostly non-professional actors, are endearing, honest and fascinating. The film’s wrinkled old faces are among its treasures. It reveals to us the eternal spirit in the aging body. The discomfort of some of the actors in smaller roles which is evident, adds to the overall charm of the film.
Farrukh Jaffar as Pappan’s grandmother is fun. Her character is painstakingly crafted and she delivers her lines effortlessly like the plaintive bleating of sheep. She gives a phenomenally realistic and warm performance.
Technically staged on a moderate scale with great production values, each scene is well-crafted and painstakingly executed. While some scenes are overly dramatic, the film is on a high note that feels unnatural and sometimes staged. Additionally, the title track’s frames seem forced to create an artistic impression.
The songs propel the narrative forward, especially the brave and volatile lyrics of Jallad Zindagi.
Globally, Mere Desh Ki Dharti is engaging despite appearing as a story of a bygone era. You sympathize with its creators but in the end, the film does not move you emotionally.
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