Starring Jimmy Sheirgill, Rahul Dev, and Prem Chopra. In Hindi with English subtitles. Rated PG. Now playing
Politicians in some Indian states are bigger than Bollywood film stars, given that aside from the fame and notoriety that comes with the job, there is absolute power to be had. This makes politics in India something akin to a Mafia fiefdom.
Dharti, the latest release from Bollywood veteran and Punjabi film superstar Jimmy Sheirgill and director Navaniat Singh, takes its cue from such power politics but comes off as an inferior version of Raajneeti, a 2010 Hindi-language mainstream Bollywood release also based on incestuous Indian state politics.
Watch the trailer for Dharti. />
Sheirgill plays an Indian air force squadron leader, Jaspreet Singh Wadala, a scion of the powerful Wadala political dynasty headed by father Baldev Singh (Prem Chopra), who is the president of the ruling Punjab Seva Dal party.
When a tragedy strikes his family and his father’s grip on the party that he founded is threatened, Jaspreet must return from his banishment years ago when he decided to join the air force against the wishes of his father, who had begun mentoring his youngest and politically astute son to be the next premier of the rich state. The two parted on bad terms, with the father disowning the son and the son vowing never to return home.
The film uses a familiar multistory headline-news format seen in countless stateside political dramas to unfold the growing power struggle within the party, which must choose a new leader.
The political drama at times is interesting, with good performances by veteran Bollywood stars Prem Chopra and Rahul Dev, who is very effective as the power-hungry Nachattar Singh. But the film is choppy and severely underwritten.
During last week’s promotional visit to Surrey, star Sheirgill stressed that despite the heavy political theme, Dharti was intended as commercial entertainment. The problem is that although the political backdrop is somewhat intriguing, the film’s forced and muddling song, dance, and romance is lacking the entertainment quotient big-time.