Star cast: Raj Singh Chaudhary, Swati Sen, Vinay Pathak, Akhilendra Mishra, Jaya Bhattacharya.

Plot: Akhilendra has Raj kidnapped and married off under force to his daughter, Swati. Does the marriage work?

What’s Good: The ambience of the interior of Bihar; the language spoken by the characters; the authenticity.

What’s Bad: The single-track story which holds no interest for the average cinema goer.

Verdict: ANTARDWAND is for the critics. The public will ignore this well-intentioned attempt.

Loo break: A few in the second half.

Nawabs Film Company’s Antardwand (UA) is about the practice of groom kidnapping rampant in Bihar and Eastern U.P. Raghuveer (Raj Singh Chaudhary), who has appeared for his civil services examinations, is admonished by his father, Madhukar Shahi (Vinay Pathak), for dreaming of marrying his pregnant girlfriend, Sia (Himanshi), whom he had befriended in college in Delhi. Madhukar wants Raghuveer to marry the daughter of his friend. Distraught and defenseless, Raghuveer terminates his visit home in the interior of Bihar and leaves for Delhi.

Before he can get out of the village, he is abducted by Mahendra Babu (Akhilendra Mishra), the headstrong father of a girl, Janaki (Swati Sen). Mahendra Babu, desirous of having an IAS officer as his son-in-law, had gone with Janaki’s marriage proposal to Madhukar Shahi for son Raghuveer, but Shahi had turned down his request.

Held captive for some days, Raghuveer is thereafter married off to Janaki, much against his and the girl’s wishes. What happens thereafter is dealt with in the latter part of the film.

Sushil Rajpal’s story tackles a social issue and Amitabh Verma’s screenplay weaves a believable plot around the story. The ambience, the language, the drama are all so believable that it almost seems like the viewer has been transported to the interior of Bihar. Even the dialogues sound real. However, having said that, it must be added that because the film moves on a single track, it gets monotonous after a point of time. As there are no sub-plots, it gets boring to see the drama unfold, especially after interval, except in a few scenes. Also, because the topic of groom kidnapping is not too well-known an issue, a lot of people won’t be interested in seeing an entire film devoted to it. In other words, this could’ve been an interesting subject matter for a documentary or, at the most, a television serial. Dialogues (Amitabh Verma) are realistic.

Raj Singh Chaudhary acts ably and conveys the frustrations of a city-educated youngster caught in the evil practice of groom abduction. Swati Sen also performs very well. Vinay Pathak is excellent as the authoritarian father. Akhilendra Mishra is superb. He gets into the skin of the character and delivers an outstanding performance. His last scene is simply remarkable. Himanshi gets limited scope and is alright. Jaya Bhattacharya gives a lovely account of herself. Neelima, as mother of Raghuveer, acquits herself creditably. Sumukhi does well in the role of Janaki’s mother. Dhairaj leaves a mark as the servant. Dr. Wajahat Kareem is natural in the role of the police inspector-friend of Mahendra Babu.

Sushil Rajpal’s direction is mature and he has done full justice to the script. But the film holds appeal for a very thin section of the audience which likes to see issue-based films. Bapi-Tutul’s music goes well with the mood of the film. Amitabh Verma’s lyrics are appropriate. Cinematography (MalayRay) is okay. D.K. Singh and Rajeev Dwivedi’s sets are good. Aseem Sinha’s editing is crisp.

On the whole, Antardwand is a well-made expose on the evil practice of groom kidnapping but its commercial prospects are dim in spite of being a realistic account.

By Komal Nahta

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