Bleak, dark, and disturbing
In his first film as a director and actor, Faruk Kabir attempts to take an unflinching look at the sordid realities of life in a squalid, crime-infested Mumbai slum. Allah Ke Banday is a story about children without childhood as we know it.
The central characters are two preteens Vijay and Yakub who push drugs, pull off smash-and-grab robberies, and fire country-made guns with aplomb. As irony would have it they land up in a juvenile home for a crime they did not commit. Inside the reformatory they are physically abused and sodomized by senior inmates in complete connivance with the limping, evil warden (Naseeruddin Shah) who vows to make every day a living hell for the two ‘born killers’.
So what was to be a place of reformation turns out to be the breeding ground of the two juveniles to grow up as hardened criminals. Finally, when the doors to freedom are flung open after 11 long and tortuous years, Vijay (Sharman Joshi) and Yakub (Faruk Kabir) have their aims set - to rule the crime world. Vengeance is also on their mind, but takes a back seat as the film veers off into a needless romantic track and shootouts aplenty.
The two friends rear an army of children to run every sort of unlawful activity until an idealist teacher (Atul Kulkarni) butts in to thwart their progress.
The story is bleak, dark and somewhat disturbing because those who live by the gun find no light at the end of the tunnel. May be a black hole that sucks everything up.
Allah Ke Banday is a promising debut by Faruk Kabir but is not void of amateurish rawness in direction and acting. The writer-director can’t seem to decide if he wants to make a realistic arthouse film or a Bollywood masala caper. Shot quite well at locations that lend realism to the film, Allah Ke Banday loses credibility with its repeated stabs at exaggerated style and affected gravitas reminiscent of the Ram Gopal Varma films. The excessive use of background score - deafening at times - does no good either.
What stands out is the restrained performance by Sharman Joshi who’s pretty much under the skin of his level-headed Vijay as against the hot-tempered Yakub enacted by Faruk. Naseer has a very small role but he works his magic in those fleeting moments. Atul Agnihotri isn’t in form this time, may be because his character is just too idealistic. Anjana Sukhani does well in a miniscule role.
To sum it up, Allah Ke Banday could have been a riveting film and a telling statement about ‘children at war’. Alas, it’s nothing more than a flawed attempt at a tale about loss, revenge and redemption.
Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5