Producers: Pammi Baweja, Jyoti Deshpande
Director: Harry Baweja
Voiceover: Om Puri
Writer: Harry Baweja
Music: Jaidev Kumar, Rabbi Shergill, Nirmal Singh, Harry Baweja
Not many animated Hindi films win your heart but Chaar Sahibzaade: Rise of Banda Singh Bahadur is a winner from the word go. Harry Baweja carries off this film which depicts history with religion as its backbone, with flying colours. A sequel to the 2014 animated film Chaar Sahibzaade, Baweja once again uses the right balance of delicacy and accuracy, and an unpretentious narration.
The film follows the journey of Madho Das, from an ascetic to a military commander known as Banda Singh Bahadur. In the early 1700s, under the guidance of Guru Gobind Singh, Banda Singh Bahadur takes on the Mughal armies of Wazir Khan to restore peace and justice in Punjab.
The film is made on photo-realistic 3D animation and to honour religious sentiments, Baweja uses only a picture of Guru Gobind Singh; he does not animate it. The voiceover artistes are also anonymous for the same reason as they were in the first instalment of the film. 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 to the last, you are glued to the screen. The 3D effect adds to the narrative and the animation is much better than it was in the first part.
Directorially, Bajwa impresses with the delicacy with which he weaves the screenplay. His talent for storytelling with poise is apparent. However, this time, the pace of the narrative does drop when Baweja tries to dramatise the events. Musically, the film has many situational songs which go well with the sequences and that lift the narration. It is one of the strongest aspects of the narration as it takes the story forward.
The scenes that stand out are, the first meeting of Guru Gobind Singh and Banda Singh Bahadur; when Guru Gobind Singh tells his wife that their sons are gone; when Guru Gobind Singh passes away; and the battle sequence. Editing by Ninad Khanolkar is good. Cinematography by Rowena Girneet Baweja is impressive.
The production values of this film are excellent and are a perfect marriage of screenplay and technology. Dialogue and voiceovers not only make the story realistic but also bring out the essence of the screenplay. Each song accentuates the situations and events in the story. With a runtime of 134 minutes, there is rarely a dull moment.