Cast: Om Puri, Govind Namdev, Manoj Pahwa, Mohnish Bahl, Anooradha Patel, Uvika Choudhary, Sarrtaj Gill
Directed by Ajai Sinha
Rating: Honour spilling
'Khap' sounds like a blunt instrument cutting through flesh and ironically refers to Khap Panchayats or village bodies that brutally skin young couples who marry within their own clan, village (or cow-shed?). Although, the Supreme Court of India has banned Khaps from exercising medieval methods to simulate the phrase, 'till death do us apart', no court has proof-read the script of the film, 'Khap', so here we go again.
Luckily, movies made on grave topics are usually intercut with a lighter parallel screenplay to balance the mood. Unluckily, 'Khap' takes the parallel story so far, it leaves the core issue like an abandoned baby outside a deserted church. So amidst the barbaric chopping, tractor mowing and sword stabbing of couples marrying within their 'gotra' (clan) in a quaint village called Sajod, lies a diabetically-sugary urban love story.
Welcome to Delhi, where 'sweet16' aka Ria (Uvika Choudhary) giggles in front of her laptop when she's pinged by 'cool_stud' aka Kush (Sarrtaj Gill). Under the guise of being a Canadian babe and an Australian mate, the two exchange some tacky messages and odd pictures of each other (a close-up of Ria's pouting lips and a widescreen of Kush's eyes with his shades hanging by the tip of his nose). Clutching on to these quirky photos, the duo indulge in a tedious song to find each other. Being from the same college and not across continents comes in handy and this hunt ends soon. To celebrate their union, we break into another song, which traces their relationship with signboards like 'Love has begun', 'Love in mid-air' and 'Love in danger'. Ok, back to some chop-chop in Sajod. Another couple forgot to spot 5 differences between their 'gotras' before saying, 'I do'. Chop! Slash! Splatt! Enough? Ok, go back to downtown Delhi!
Now, the city and village sequences can't be parallel forever, so Ria's dad, Madhur (Mohnish Bahl) happens to be the son of Khap President of Sajod, Omkar Chaudhary (Om Puri), aka Commander Slash? Disturbed by his father's atrocious ways, Madhur had forsaken Sajod life decades ago to move to Delhi. But what Madhur couldn't give up (and something that we all have to unitedly endure) are his charred and wormlike expressions (possibly produced by placing a transparent box of fart over his face?).
Anyway, to connect the dots, Riya and friends also happen to visit Sajod for a picnic/ field trip/ Khap darshan etc and discover the dark order of the place. Later, Madhur, who is also a human rights officer, is sent to investigate a possible case of honour killings in Sajod. And with all roads heading to Sajod, it's hardly imaginative to guess where this headless chicken is headed. Following a series of 'Papa, I'm not coming home', we have some dishonorable and some accidental killings. Ria and Kush also get intricately mixed up in this severely melodramatic story that results to naught.
Critical character actors that define this story with their unnecessary presence are as follows: 1. Alok Nath plays a random bloated person lecturing college kids in a library about the demerits of marrying one's siblings. He hammers his opinion by screaming across the library, to a point that you want his unfriendly appearance to end or offer him hammer-killing. 2. Kaka or Omkar's household help, who's eternally playing with dough to fix his special 'mooli ka paratha', much-loved by Madhur. Go figure who's not making it for dinner. 3. Mad village idiot, whose bizarre antics are deliciously scary. He may not have his way with words but like a pug that attracts attention to the scene of crime, he manages to convey an important happening towards the end of the film. 4. Manoj Pahwa and Govind Namdev playing Omkar's loyal aides Sukhiram and Daulat Singh sufficiently sneer, grunt and display numerous flashes of fury.
Using cinema as a medium to sensitize audiences about social evils like honour killing is noble indeed. But not if it turns out to be a criminal murder of time, like this film.
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