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31st October Review by Saibal Chatterjee on NDTVMovies
You want to root for 31st October. That is the kind of film it is. You want to will it on to punch above its weight. Sadly, it is too feeble in the legs to run the distance with its heavy burden. The dawdling pace reduces the narrative to a crawl. 31st October has its heart in the right place. What it lacks is genuine firepower. Despite the anger and anguish that drives it, it is unable to whip up urgency and force. A series of title cards at the end of the film fills the audience in with broad details of what happened on that fateful day and its aftermath. It is as if the horrors that it depicts in the previous 100 minutes or so aren’t enough to get the point across.
31st October Review by Rohit Vats on Hindustan Times
There isn’t just one narrator or a central character. That shifts focus to some extent because sub-stories become a bit preachy about the riots. It’s all there in front of our eyes. Do we still need somebody to hammer it through our heads? If we do, then we are only going to take it as just another film about riots and not as a strictly non-repeatable crime. 31st October is an important film, especially when many have gone scot-free in the anti-Sikh riots cases even after so many years. It’s going to be 32 years in 10 days. As they say, justice delayed is justice denied.
31st October Review by Manisha Lakhe on Nowrunning
The fires on the riot affected streets seem very organised and carefully placed on the side. When Soha is pushed out of the bus that is set on fire, she takes forever to run away from the bus, turning around to look at it. When there are rioters on streets, no one will ask their sister and her family to leave their home and drive across the city to come to where you have found shelter! The whole premise seems to be too flimsy, and does not do justice to such a horrendous part of our recent history. Movies like Amu (directed by Shonali Bose, and starring Konkona Sen Sharma in 2005) have handled this subject with so much more sensitivity and manage to make the events shocking even to those too young to remember. The final nail in the coffin is watching Vir Das (who could not be more than 30 years old in the film) in a full white beard, old man’s shakes and all and Soha Ali Khan with white powder in her hair and an Arthritic knee tell us that justice will never be given to the victims… Such a waste of a great opportunity.
31st October Review by Jaidev Hemmady on Movietalkies
Though the film takes its time to come to the point and focuses on the families of various Sikhs in Delhi instead of offering some background about Operation Blue Star, which had provoked the assassination, 31st October packs a powerful punch from the interval point onwards to the end credits. The sequences involving the rescue mission will surely make you sit on the edge of your seats as you find yourself silently rooting for the Singh family while chewing your fingernails. Director Shivaji Lotan Patil succeeds in weaving a thrilling story of heroism and survival with an emotional connect, though we feel that the film should have offered some background about the Blue Star issue, if only in passing.
Review by Vishal Verma on Glamsham
31st OCTOBER could have been the opportunity by the national award winning helmer Shivaji Lotan Patil to make a strong and powerful statement on screen. Unfortunately the movie ends up as a sensationally forced recall of the 1984 horror that has a feeling in its heart but fails to convincingly put it on screen.
Review by Devarsi Ghosh on India Today
31st October, however, is a maudlin, meaningless two-hour long film where Delhi is overflowing with anti-Sikh sentiment following Indira Gandhi’s assassination. The rioters are one-dimensional to the point of being funny. Shivaji Lolan Patil should understand that this is 2016 and the audience is quite capable of ‘getting’ subtlety, complexity and depth, things that are totally absent in this film. In fact, if you have actors like Vir Das and Soha Ali Khan as your protagonists, a certain kind of audience will invariably walk into the theatre; you do not to dilute the material to make it accessible.
Review by Nihit Bhave on The Times Of India
Entirely too much time is spent on the set-up, the first half is dialogue-heavy but characters seem to ramble and the sound is terrible. When actors speak, you feel them dubbing the lines right there, next to you. Producer-writer Harry Sachdeva’s heart must have been in the right place, but a lot else wasn’t. In parts, the movie ends up looking like a dramatic reenactment of riots from a crime show. Soha Ali Khan and Vir Das try to be sincere but don’t have much to do. Das’s Devinder practically spends the whole second half sitting, sleeping, huffing and puffing to combat his low blood pressure.
Review by Shubhra Gupta on Indian Express
There has been almost nothing in mainstream Bollywood about those dark days. 31st October had the chance to re-construct that ghastly day and show just how an event can spiral out of control, and just how easily hatred can be fanned and spread when the law and order machinery has been told to look the other way. But the film has nothing – neither narrative nor engaging characters—on offer. Das is hopelessly miscast. The others fare no better. Khan at least tries hard to look the part, but cannot rise above the sheer ineptness of this enterprise, which neither tells nor shows us anything we do not know.
Review by Prasanna D Zore on Rediff
The first half of the film moves at a languid pace as the National Award-winning director showcases the bonhomie between the two communities before the assassination. The second half equally lacks the pace that should accompany a rescue mission. Khan, as an actor, doesn’t have much to do as a mother whose mental toughness and the belief in God is put to the test. Vir Das does touch an emotional chord or two as the father of Sikh boys, who has to make a decision between staking their lives at the cost of their religious identities. Given these limitations, 31st October could be a one-time watch.
Review by IANS on Sify
Such characters and incidents belong more to a long-running Doordarshan serial than a feature film. Much of the drama is theatrical and the acting is plainly amateurish. But 31 October is a film that must be seen more for what it tells us rather than how it says it, about a shameful chapter from Indian history. At the end we see the now-old Sikh couple, trapped in a web of frustration and rage, still waiting for justice.
Review by Johnson Thomas on Mid-Day India
The plot is extremely flimsy, the characterizations limited by casting and imagination and the pace is too slow to be effective. The performances also lack grit. Neither a simpering Vir Das nor a seriously sincere Soha Ali Khan can do enough to make this effort memorable or haunting. The statistical data on the killings and the appeal for contributions and support at the end credits come across as opportunistic given that the filmed experience itself does grave injustice to a cause that almost seems like a lost one now. ‘31st October’ is why fledgling inept filmmakers should stay away from history-invoking true stories, else such heinous acts might well be wiped out from the collective conscience for want of a skilled and able raconteur!
Review by Bryan Durham on DNA India
The lead pair make you yawn. They’ve got negligible chemistry as a married couple. Their children are annoying. Their neighbors are annoying. The supporting cast looks like it was put together by someone not serious about their job. The actors can’t decide on what accent to keep, what emotions to portray, the characters weakly written, you wonder why they even bothered with a screenplay.
Review by Arnab Banerjee on Deccan Chronicle
As a film, 31st October should have served to encourage a sobering sense of responsibility, a more truthful perspective on our identities — both individual and national — and a stronger tendency toward restraint in those who might find violence appealing. And justifying. There was a goldmine of rich material here, but there is nothing explored of the dark subject matter in this story. Neither is any attempt made to go beyond what is already in public domain, and so, the film fatally lacks in focus or momentum. In terms of the background to such an unfortunate incident, the director doesn’t furnish us with any more insights, whatsoever, to give us a peep into the cause for such an attack. This could have been a revelatory work on the nature and consequences of physical, emotional, psychological and sexual violence too. Instead, all that the narrative focuses on are gory killings that make viewers bruised by depictions of gross violence. Even after so much bloodshed shown, the discomforting exploration of human misbehaviour fails to strike a chord among the viewers: so devoid of any emotional connect the film remains.
Review by Divya Pal on News18
While the film manages to capture the unabated violence convincingly, and the efforts that stranded Sikh families to save their lives and a few Hindu families extending help, the impact doesn’t come across too strongly. So you might find the sequences of violence and barbarity leaving you a bit disturbed, but it gets forgotten with the next sequence that follows. As far as acting is concerned, Soha Ali Khan and Vir Das are average. Both Khan and Das were doing a project that gave them the opportunity to display every ounce and nuance of emotion. They could have easily delivered a range of emotions and proved their mettle. But they fail. Their eyes might swell with tears but it won’t affect you much. Since the film clearly lacks emotional depth, it might not strike a chord with those who witnessed the horror.
Review by Kunal Guha on Mumbai Mirror
Vir Das portrays pain like a man with acid reflux. But given the Flanders-esque (The Simpsons) character written for him, there’s barely much he could offer. Soha Ali Khan pulls off her Sikhni convincingly and faintly resembles a young Amrita Singh, despite her petite frame. The blood-spattered font in the opening credits is telling of the violence this film packs in. Families being burnt inside their cars, victims being dragged out of their homes and their limbs severed on the streets and so on. Even if you have the appetite for so much gore — you’d still rather watch a slasher — it would at least not be as sappy.
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