REVIEW: Surkhaab – Focus on migrants

Surkhaab tells the story of the flight of the reluctant immigrant…says Troy Ribeiro  

Film: “Surkhaab”; Cast: Barkha Madan, Nishant Bahl, Vineeta Mallik, Sumeet Suri, Kanza Feris and Naresh Gosain; Director: Sanjay Talreja; Rating: **


Surkhaab, the beautiful migratory bird that’s found in Punjab is used as a metaphor in this film, and the title song “Des mera pardes hua” with the lyrics “Sone di chidiya sapne dikhavea”, encapsulates its essence brilliantly.

Narrated in a non-linear manner, the plot revolves around Jeet Kaur (Barkha Madan), a state-level Judo champion, who goes to Canada to meet her brother Pargat (Nishant Bahl), whom she has not seen for eight years. The film is her journey.

The tale begins with a promise, and what starts off as a simple story of a sister meeting her brother, gradually gets complicated with human foibles that unfurl at regular intervals.

The plot explores the real life challenges and obstacles faced by a reluctant undocumented immigrant, trying to find a foot space in one of the most sought after countries, Canada.

While Sanjay Talreja is a sound director and the story is convincing, his writing lacks depth. With one-dimensional characters and forced plot oints, the script is plagued by an amateurish attempt to present the film as a thriller.

Barkha Madan, who is also the producer of this film, plays the lead Jeet Kaur. She is convincing as an actor. But due to the lack of depth in the writing, her character is reduced to a caricature. While she plays the fearless girl living in an orthodox community to perfection, she falters as the simpleton caught up in a vicious plan of the scheming middle-men involved in the immigration racket.

Sumit Suri as the persuasive Kuldeep, the antagonist and the nephew of the hustler Balbir, is realistic. He has a typical demeanour which is charismatic in a peculiar manner. Similarly, Nishant Bahl as Jeet’s brother Pargat is charming. He has a raw appeal and depicts the brotherly affection credibly. Naresh Gosain as Balbir and Vineeta Mallik as Jeet’s mother are very stereotypical and matter-of-fact.

On the technical front, shot in Punjab and Canada with a limited budget, the production values of the film are good. The visuals by cinematographer Benjamin Lichty have a fresh approach. He captures rustic Punjab and urbane Canada skillfully. And Archit D. Rastogi’s editing puts things in the right perspective. With fine intercuts, the scenes mesh well into the narration.

The title song and the background score by Toronto-based composer Anuj Rastogi is enchanting and it elevates the viewing experience.

Released under the PVR Director’s Rare banner, the film is an eye-opener for those who feel that the grass is greener on the other side.