Sikandar opens with the innocence of a child but complicates itself with the politics of Kashmir and astuteness of characters, as it progresses.
Sikandar (Parzan Dastur) is a Kashmiri teenager who enjoys playing football until he gets heroic kicks from toting a pistol that he finds abandoned across the street. While his new school friend Nasreen (Ayesha Kapoor) discourages him from his gun-fantasy, Sikandar still becomes an innocent victim between the jehadis (Arunoday Singh), army (R Madhavan), peace bartering politicians (Sanjay Suri) and the religious heads of the Kashmiri town.
The film attempts to be a suspense thriller under the garb of social drama. But somewhere the suspense treatment is marred with too many loopholes while the social theme is too shallow. Though it had good scope, the narrative doesn’t delve deep into the history of Kashmir leaving its characters one-dimensional. With the Kashmir issue being blared up in dailies, one is expected to have a basic understanding of the political backdrop.
Nevertheless, director Piyush Jha delivers tender moments in expressing the young boy’s new-found machismo when he gets hold of the gun. He goes on to highlight how young minds are influenced with the glorified image of jehadis (militants). However, brainwashing innocent minds to killings, in lure of washing machine, sounds too far-fetched. The revelation in the pre-climax is impressive but the end leaves you craving for a lot more of conviction and clarification. The subtlety leaves you kind of flummoxed.
Somak Mukherjee’s cinematography beautifully captures the serene scenic bylanes of actual Kashmir land. The pacing is slow and the editing could have been much crisper. Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy’s music is soothing but Justin-Uday’s background score dominated by Arabic overtones struggles too hard to gain your attention.
Performances are dramatized with unwanted accents. Parzan Dastur is decent in the title role. Ayesha Kapoor isn’t bad but, at times, still seems to be in the Black hangover with her accentuated expressions and equally stressed dialogue delivery (or was her voice dubbed?). Sanjay Suri comes up with a restrained act. Arunoday Singh and Madhavan are good but don’t have too much to do.
Sikandar does strike a goal though loses its audience now and then.