Discard: Sharman Joshi, Vikram Singh, Bidita Bag, Mugdha Godse, Zarina Wahab and Shisir Sharma
Director: Aaryaan Saxena
Rating: Two and a half stars (out of 5)
If mere intention was the most important criterion in judging the value of a film, Call from Mera Fauji, a film about the family of a soldier who died in the face of loss and grief, would be considered an exceptional effort. He takes an unusual approach to the theme of war and martyrdom by distracting the heroics from the battlefield and directing it to those slain soldiers leave behind.
One of the main disadvantages of Call from Mera Fauji, in theaters today, arises from the artifices to which he resorts. The overall quality of the shoot is also ordinary. Despite the spotless camera work of cinematographer Subhranshu Das and the consistently competent performances of Sharman Joshi, Bidita Bag, Zarina Wahab and newcomer Mahi Soni, the film never comes close to anything that could be considered superior. to the average.
Part of the story is told through the innocent perspective of a little girl, another from the perspective of a grieving wife. It is one thing to show the value of soldiers who give their lives in the line of duty – absolutely in order, that – but is it necessary to support the old notions of patriarchy which are based on the belief that a household without a man the head is incomplete? Her father misses a daughter, a woman longs for her husband, a mother cries for her son. We have three women on screen, but we don’t have the right to forget for a single moment that the missing male is the one that matters most.
The film wants to emphasize the importance of accepting a tragedy and moving on, but it only seems to thrive on characters clinging to the past and moping endlessly. The emotions that Call from Mera Fauji plays with are easy to understand. Unfortunately, the dialogues written by the writer-director of the film Aaryaan Saxena are oversimplified when not completely stilted.
Just an example: “Jab tum kisiki khushi ban jaao toh gham apne aap porte ho jaata hai (When you become a source of happiness for some, you dispel your own sorrows), ”one character said to another with the clinical air of a counselor. Does it seem loaded with meaning? It’s actually a terribly superficial way to empathize with someone who has just lost a loved one in war.
A central character is an army officer, played by one of the film’s producers (Ranjha Vikram Singh). However, his military exploits are not the center of the story. It is his absence that drives Mera Fauji Calling, both in his lifetime and in his death. When he is at the heart of the action, he speaks to affirm that his love for the country keeps him going. And when he is no more, a senior officer (Shishir Sharma) visits the soldier’s mother to congratulate her on her courage and sacrifice.
The melodrama revolves primarily around a schoolgirl, Aaradhya (Mahi Soni) who falls ill after being shaken by a nightmare in which she sees her father being shot and killed by a bullet. The doctor tells the family that the girl suffers from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and should be handled with care.
Her mother Sakshi (Bidita Bag) and grandmother (Zarina Wahab), who live in a rural part of Jharkhand, do all they can to disown her of her fears. The premonition of the girl, priceless for guessing, comes true. Three generations have to face the death of the son / husband / father during the terrorist attack on an Indian army camp in Uri. The two older women hide their distress as they don’t want Aaradhya to have a relapse.
In a poorly edited scene in a television studio, a host asks a reporter why the family of the deceased officer did not make headlines. He is told that the whole village decided to pretend that Lieutenant Rajveer Singh is not dead and, therefore, chose not to break the news.
The second half of Call from Mera Fauji turns his attention to a mysterious stranger (Sharman Joshi) who gets lost in the life of Sakshi, his mother-in-law and Aaradhya. He is drawn into the ongoing ruse to protect the latter from trauma. This part of the movie puts gullibility to the test at least until the story of the man is revealed as to why he is what he is.
The film begins with a drone shot of a vehicle driving on a forest road. It is followed by a fade in and the sound of a crash. The next shot is of a overturned car. The background and fallout of the accident remain undisclosed until late in the film.
After the opening credits, we enter a rustic house that is in the middle of the Diwali celebrations. Sakshi sets off a firecracker to show Aaradhya the impact of the explosion. Cut to grenade explosion on the war front. There, when Lt. Rajveer Singh, Sakshi’s husband, is not fighting, he has time to call his wife – hence the film’s title – to tell her how good she and the rest of the family are. family misses him.
Somewhere along the way, we learn that Lt. Singh returns home for a month every April and that’s when they celebrate both Diwali and Holi. And then, on Aaradhya’s birthday, bad news arrives and the shocked mother and distraught grandmother hide their tears in order to protect the little girl from the shock.
Aaradhya learns that his father has been promoted and has moved to where God lives. The girl, believing this information to be true, goes in search of the house of God, loses her way and finds herself in a hut in a forest. The rest of Call from Mera Fauji represents a family learning to accept the finality of death.
Call from Mera Fauji has several battle scenes, a lengthy flashback to reveal scenes of domestic bliss and one devoted to the car crash from the opening sequence, but ultimately it’s all about the human dimensions of warfare. To that extent, the film dials the right number and conveys a meaningful message.
If only he had a way of manipulating the medium’s tools in a more imaginative and less devious way, Call from Mera Fauji would have had more weight. Well intentioned but mediocre.