Vishal Bhardwaj has given quite a lot of depth to Charan Singh Pathik's short story 'Do Behnein' through an enticing comedy-drama which takes us to a walk through India's partition, and raising a lot of questions as the narrative proceeds. Set in the backdrop of Mount Abu Rajasthan, the story revolves around two rival sisters Genda Kumari (Sanya Malhotra) and elder sister Champa Kumari aka 'Badki' (Radhika Madan) who start off a street fight over a bidi. That's not the root cause of it, as it is Dipper (Sunil Grover) who seeks entertainment in this passionate rivalry just like the media by setting up cold war in every opportunity that he seeks. It is a mining contractor played by Vijay Raaz, the father of the two enemy sisters who calms the war down everytime trying to unite them giving them the first lesson of smoking kills 'Bidi Piney se kark rog Hoye hai' to which badki replies 'Parr tu toh zinda hai abhi bhi'.
A pivotal role played by Saanand Verma (Tharki Patel) a quirky pervert from village who eyes Badki and Genda all the time. With no time the narrative leads to their respective love interest played by Namit Das and Abhishek Duhan. Making the tone of the film quite light-hearted there are some funny moments embedded in the narrative quite smartly and everyone giggled a lot while watching the film. Bhardwaj has kept it quite raw and it is the second half where the film dips a bit for 5-10 minutes. Genda's dream of becoming a master in English and opening a school in her village along with Badki's milk dairy center setup is hurdled in their married life.
There is a slight twist towards the second half as they start achieving their ambition by partition and by not giving much of the spoilers let's take a tour at the performances.
Both Radhika and Sanya has laid a power-packed performance and their intense act in the climax is actually Vishal Bhardwaj's victory, as we literally sense this stupefying sisterhood chemistry through their stellar act. Both took the command of the raw Rajasthani dialect quite well. Equally, eye-pleasing was Sunil Grover as Dipper a nerdy best friend who acts a modern day Narad Muni in their life and his tapori act is surely enjoyable. Vijay Raaz who often plays comic roles has quite a lot of emotional scenes to do in this one and he delivered his act with a lot of conviction. Namit Das and Abhishek Duhan as brothers and rival sisters husbands did a decent job with their respective screen time. They didn't let us feel that they are out of the race and made their presence felt. Saanand Verma as Patel outplayed his negative role and we find most of the quirk just by his presence. Packed with these praiseworthy performances Pataakha as the entire cast has put forth a solid team effort which is honestly admirable.
Talking about the music, Bhardwaj's background score has blended with the narrative perfectly and we love that cow-boy music which mounts during 'Yudh Ka Aarambh'. Leaving all of us quite surprised as we do no see Malaika Arora's 'Hello Hello' in the entire film, not even in the end credit scene. The 'Pataakha' title track is a joy to hear as it is embedded in the start and climax scenes quite perfectly. The folk-like wedding number 'Balma' explores the spicy chemistry of the two sisters as Rekha Bhardwaj and Sunidhi Chauhan croon this one flawlessly. The most appealing number was 'Naina Banjare' that focused the prospering love of rival rural sisters played by Sanya Malhotra & Radhika Madan who have some great moments of their life with their respective love interest. Arijit Singh's melodious voice again touches every emotional chord and this time the euphoric element is inclined towards an emotional fare. Overall music by Bhardwaj nurtures the film.
Making us witness a tale of rural backdrop, it is Vishal Bhardwaj's gripping screenplay that makes everything work, every character looks lively and leads every message to reach the audience. Rustic and raw dialogues are the true highlight of the film also how these actors delivered it is not to be missed. Bhardwaj remains the sailor of the ship and not to take away some serious credit as we wonder how the team wrapped up the shoot in just 21 days.
Cinematography by Ranjan Palit is laudable as he has captured some captivating scenes from the rural backdrop of Mount Abu remote Rajasthan superbly. Costume design by Karishma Sharma is purely authentic and of a rural touch. This turned out to be the body in the soul of these characters. Production design by Subrata Chakraborty and Amit Ray has lead the most authentic location best suited for the film. Overall Pataakha is a film with a great enlightening message coming after ages. A must watch for performances, entertainment, and a thought-provoking message.