Cast: Vir Das, Soha Ali Khan, Lakha Lakhwinder Singh, Deepraj Rana and Vineet Sharma
Director: Shivaji Lotan Patil
Rating: 2 stars
When you are making a film based on a true story or even on a great personality, you have to make sure the director and the cast is well researched and gives fair justice to the true story, otherwise it tarnishes the reputation of actual incidents. The makers of 31st October had the whole story of 1984’s riots after Indira Gandhi’s assassination but their execution is so weak that it cannot even be called as the realistic display of actual events.
The personal bodyguard of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi shoots her and the whole nation is under turmoil with this horrendous incident. Everyone in Delhi is now hunting Sikh and Sardar community and killing them and their families. Trapped amidst this chaos, is a family of Davinder Singh (Vir Das) who has a wife Tejinder Kaur (Soha Ali Khan) and three children. Davinder’s family is into a hideout in their own house and now face a deadly situation as they can’t escape from their house but should not even stay there. This is a story of Davinder and many such Sikh families who faced a monstrous time in 1984.
One of the core tasks for the team was to select a cast which gives a realistic feel of Sikh and their culture. Vir Das, although, tries hard with his acting, never convincingly seemed like a real Sikh on screen. First few scenes of the film which give the background of each character prior to the riots were weak and editing was sluggish too. Why show so many characters when you can concentrate on a handful of them and still make it an interesting story? The screenplay of the film was disappointing. Davinder’s conversations with his kids and his wife never reached a realistic level. Moreover, the Sikh culture was nowhere to be found.
Image Source: Zee Music Company
Shivaji Lotan Patil, a National Award winning director, fails to make ‘31st October’ a worthwhile storytelling. Despite having a true storyline at his disposal, he doesn’t succeed in bringing that alive on screen. This story has been told through the family of Davinder Singh but Patil had to develop these family characters in such a way that the audience feel empathetic to their pain and loss, which he didn’t. The dialogues between the families were discouraging and didn’t have a depth or emotional power. Unnecessary importance to some characters in the first half kept the film low in impact. However, he does make the second half somewhat interesting when Daivnder’s family is halted at a Police check point.
Shivaji Patil also gives a good treatment to the storyline by showing how some Hindus also helped Sikhs by giving them shelter in these dark times of humanity. But, overall, the direction doesn’t hold the grip to make this film a memorable affair.
Vir Das, the lead protagonist, works hard to deliver the role of a Sikh person but it wasn’t much impressive. I have to give it to him for his honest efforts but the casting director should have selected some actor who could have delivered such performance. Vir Das’ voice is very thin for such role. Soha Ali Khan does a good job. She looked emotional but not exactly a typical Sikh woman. Supporting cast of Lakha Lakhwinder Singh, Deepraj Rana and Vineet Sharma shine in their jobs. Their dedication to save this family and friends was performed in amazing way.
31st October deteriorates from start to finish with nothing captivating about the incident. No depth into the characters and ordinary execution result into a forgettable cinematic experience.