When you depict history that has religion as its backbone, you need to have conviction to stand by your film. And Harry Baweja carries this off with flying colours with his film Chaar Sahibzaade. Kudos to Baweja for making this film with the right balance of delicacy and accuracy, and an unpretentious narration. Chaar Sahibzaade is based on the lives of Ajit Singh, Jujhar Singh, Zorawar Singh and Fateh Singh, the four sons of the tenth Sikh master, Guru Gobind Singh. All four brothers died as martyrs while still very young.
The film starts in an era where Turkish and Mughal invaders rained atrocities and conversions on the people of India. Then rose a sect, caste being no bar, from among the suppressed, baptised by Guru Gobind Singh, The Khalsa. In Khalsa, martyrdom is fundamental and represents an important institution of the faith. How Ajit Singh, Jujhar Singh, Zorawar Singh and Fateh Singh gave their lives to uphold the sanctity of the Sikh religion forms the crux of the story.
The film is made on photo realistic 3D animation and to honour religious sentiments, Baweja uses only a picture of Guru Gobind Singh and does not animate it. The voiceover artistes are also anonymous for the same reason. The narration is infused with transparency and holds its ground from beginning to end. All in all, it is a praiseworthy effort. The film is also a perfect history lesson.
The movie opens very well. From the very first scene, you get a sense of the poise of Guru Gobind Singh has the sense of pride his sons have for their religion and their father’s teachings. Directorially, Bajwa impresses with the delicacy with which he weaves the screenplay. His talent for storytelling with poise is bravura. Speaking of pace, the first half of the film moves very quickly, focusing on the elder sons and the war. Post-interval, the focus shifts to his two younger sons and you’re engrossed immediately. The sequence where the younger sons, Zorawar Singh and Fateh Singh, are presented in front of the Mugals and Wazir Khan tries to lure them to embrace Islam with promises of riches, is one of the many highlights of the film.
The production values are absolutely top-notch and are a perfect marriage of screenplay and technology. Dialogue and voiceovers not only make story realistic but also bring out the essence of the screenplay. Music is one of the strongest aspects of the narration as it helps take the story forward. Each song further accentuates the situations and events in the story. With a runtime of 129 minutes, there is rarely a dull moment.
Verdict: Although high on content, it will be difficult for this film to sustain at the ticket counter. But definitely a must-watch!