Cast: Pavan Raj Malhotra, Zoya Hussain, Anshuman Pushkar, Wamiqa Gabbi, Sahidur Rahaman
Director: Ranjan Chandel
Who can forget the carnage of 1984 that is still fresh in the minds of Sikh people even three decades later! Numerous films and TV series have tried to present the 1984 Sikh Massacre that happened post the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards. The Sikh genocide is still not forgotten as the tears well up in the eyes of victims who have faced the horrors of the gone time.
Satya Vyas’ popular Hindi novel Chaurasi also speaks the story of the massacre and is probably the first Hindi novel which is based on the anti-Sikh riots of Chaurasi. The novel depicts how the protagonist, a Hindu boy, Rishi tries to save his Sikh girlfriend and her family during the riots. During that violence, when under the guise of cruelty, people were killing each other and the very humanity. But Rishi still strives to save the one he loved the most.
Inspired by Satya's story, Disney plus Hotstar brings the adapted version of the Hindi novel Chaurasi for the audience. While recalling the horror of 1984, the series flows in two parallel timelines. The one that is set in 2016, when an IPS officer, solves a riddle that ties the past with the present and the other which is set in 1984, tells the love story of a Hindu boy and a Sikh girl that succumbs to anti-Sikh riots.
8 episode series Grahan is about IPS officer Amrita Singh (Zoya Hussain) posted at Ranchi. She lives with her Sikh father Gursevak (Pavan Malhotra). Her father's dream is to marry her off to her Canadian fiance Karthik (Nandish Sandhu). But for her nation comes first before her love and she gets involved in investigating the case of an honest journalist who was burnt alive by some goons. Amid the political interference in the police department, she decided to resign but the officials asked her to reopen the case of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots that happened in Bokaro. Things take some drastic turns when she gets to know about her father's involvement in the Sikh genocide. More than a father-daughter relationship, the cornerstone of the series is the political chicanery that creates wrangle between the two communities.
Created by Shailendra Kumar Jha and directed by Mukkabaaz co-writer Ranjan Chandel, Grahan showcases how it is so hard to restore the damage caused by accidents, riots and wars. Scripted by Anu Singh Chaudhary, Navjot Gulati, Vibha Singh, Prateek Payodhi, the story has depicted the hideous Sikh genocide that happened back in 1984 with the twist of a love angle. Just like Satya Vyas' novel, in the end, the series fills us with shame and guilt, giving a very vivid glimpse of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.
The entire scene of mob ransacked houses of Sikh people, can scratch anyone's soul. Although, it is not the first time when a riot story has been presented on the big screen, but, the way Satya Vyas has woven the story of two periods, he has beautifully handled the sensitive subject in a well-crafted manner.
Speaking on the performance front, Pavan Raj Malhotra's expressions and body language fit perfectly in Gursevak Singh's character. Zoya Hussain as Amrita is real and more authentic. The Mukkabaaz fame actress knows how to speak with eyes and her dialogue delivery is always on the point. After Kathmandu Connection, once again Anshuman Pushkar is seen portraying the role of an 80s hero. Style inspired by Amitabh Bachchan, hair-like Shashi Kapoor, Anshuman keeps himself raw. Keeping her Punjabi accent, Wamiqa Gabbi as Sikh girl Manu stays real and true to her character. Teekam Joshi as Chunnu and Satyakaam Anand as Kedar Bhagat have done justice to their roles.
Still, this seven hours long series can slow down the flow of storytelling but despite all loopholes, Grahan manages to hinder one's mind. It also emphasizes that the crowd which creates civil disorder has its own language, different expression and unethical desire. But no one can deny that stories like this only rub salt on the old wounds.
However, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee has demanded a ban on the series for allegedly portraying a Sikh character in an objectionable manner. Despite the controversy, Grahan underlines the importance of humanity and puts a question mark on the disparities between different communities. Long story short, the series is a binge-watch for the weekend and if you like the series then you will surely be keen on reading Satya Vyas’ popular novel Chaurasi.