In an attempt to disprove the illusion of Nehruvian socialism, Sudhir Mishra begins the movie with Nehru’s Tryst with destiny. The sarcasm is evident and this sets the tone for the movie. All the three leading actors shot to fame overnight. Shiney swept all the awards in 2006 for the Best Debut. However, Chitrangada, who was hailed by critics as a modern day Smita Patil, turned out to be a one-film wonder. With HKA, Sudhir Mishra pushed himself into international festival circuits. HKA was lauded across the world at prestigious platforms like the Berlin Film Festival, the Edinburgh Film Festival and the Commonwealth International Film Festival. HKA was hailed by Shekhar Kapoor as ‘the most significant and real film that I have seen recently and without doubt, the most important film to come out of India in a long, long time’. Ashutosh Gowarikar exalted the film as ‘Indian Cinema’s first great political epic’.
The dialouges, predominantly in English, are conversational in nature. The characters, with heavy shades of grey, depict the reactions of different sections of urban India towards the Naxal uprising. The middle- class reaction of Vikram comes out as he says disgustingly to Gita that Siddhrath can afford to join the revolt as he is born to a rich father and can return once he wants to give up. Gita, largely apolitical in the beginning, laps up the struggle, initially to please Siddharth and later to seek self-actualisation. Though Siddharth begins as the show stopper in this murky drama, the climax turns the fortunes and pushes Vikram to spotlight. One gets goose bumps watching Shiney groan in pain and fright in the climax scene as he is beaten up black and blue by the constables.
But somewhere it is Gita who forms an invisible thread, holding many lives and scenes together in this movie. Her adoration propels the heroism of Siddharth. Within the parameters of his social constraints, Vikram tries his level best to win her love and finally even loses his sanity in a bid to save her. Her husband desperately tries to get her back, though she eludes him like a mirage. She becomes the temptress who puts the lives of those around her out of place, though she is not the purpose of this drama. Chitrangada cast her web of performance with alacrity and makes this a role of a lifetime.
The highlight of the movie was the music by Shantanu Moitra, set to the lyrics of Swanand Kirkire. Be it the spirited qawalli Man yeh bawra, the plaintive notes of Hazaron Khwaishein aisi or the heart-rending climax song Bawra Man dekhne chala, the music brings out the cream of the moments. One feature that stands out is the expression of the state of mind of the characters through letters rather than boring monologues. The decadence of the era is caught very well by Mishra and he even keeps in mind the music tracks blaring out of the radios and tape recorders. Watch out for Mukesh’s rendition of Woh Subah kabhi toh aayegi as Siddharth and Gita share their ideas on an impending revolution.