- 2 hr 40 min
Maachis is a hard-hitting, politically-charged movie from the year 1996 which captures the tense atmosphere of India in the late 1980s and early 1990s when the country was grappling with widespread terrorism, insurgency and state-sponsored violence. Directed by Gulzar, the movie has a stellar cast featuring Om Puri, Tabu, and Chandrachur Singh.
The story of Maachis revolves around a group of young men who are forced to turn to militancy as a response to the brutalities committed by the armed forces in Punjab. Through their eyes, the viewer gets a glimpse into the stark reality of the insurgency movement and the complex web of relationships that exists between the militants, their families, and the society they live in.
The movie opens with the introduction of the lead character, Kripal Singh (Chandrachur Singh), a young man who is studying in college in Delhi. Kripal hails from a small village in Punjab, where his family still resides. One day, while attending a student protest march, Kripal meets the enigmatic and spirited Veeran (Tabu) who introduces him to a group of young men who are fighting for their rights in Punjab. The group is led by a charismatic and passionate militant, Balraj (Jimmy Shergill), who is determined to make a difference in the lives of the people in Punjab.
As Kripal begins to spend more time with Veeran and the group, he realizes the enormity of the situation that they are grappling with. The militants are up against a brutal police force, which is willing to cross any lines to suppress the insurgency. In one particularly heart-wrenching scene, the police rounds up a group of suspected militants, tortures them brutally, and then murders them in cold blood. Kripal is horrified by the atrocities he witnesses and realizes that there is no going back for him.
Over time, Kripal transforms from a mild-mannered college student into a committed militant who is willing to sacrifice everything for the cause. His transformation is mirrored by the character of Veeran, who is revealed to have a tragic past which has left her disillusioned and angry at the system.
The movie's cinematography is stunning, and the music is soulful and evocative. The songs range from the joyful and exuberant to the hauntingly melancholic, and they perfectly capture the mood of the movie. The performances of the lead actors are top-notch, with Om Puri delivering a masterful performance as the police officer who is doggedly determined to crush the insurgency, no matter what.
Overall, Maachis is a deeply moving and thought-provoking movie that explores the themes of justice, sacrifice, and redemption. It is a powerful indictment of the systemic injustices that continue to plague the country, and it is a testament to the resilience and determination of the human spirit in the face of adversity. Anyone who is interested in Indian history, politics, or culture should definitely watch this movie.