Film Review | Empty Inside | Punjabi Feature Film

Review by Amritbir Kaur

The premiere show of ‘Empty Inside’ held at Guru Nanak Bhawan, Ludhiana seemed more of a Sikh event than being a movie premiere. As a film analyst one might feel that the Sikhs are limiting their market in this way. but this stream of thoughts stops here because the credit goes to the Director, Satdeep Singh when we come to know his thinking behind taking a Gursikh boy with unshorn hair as the protagonist in the film. He says that in this competitive era, Sikhs have to compromise with their Sikh tenets to make a mark in the Bollywood.  Here I fully agree with him. Actually when the situation is grim, the Sikhs should themselves carve out opportunities for Sikh boys and girls, who won’t give up their identity just to be in limelight. Hence, we can excuse the team for making the premiere a religious event. 

Poster Punjabi Film Empty Inside
Poster Revealing Ceremony of Punjabi Film Empty Inside
Now coming to the film itself, at the very outset the whole team deserves applause for such a brilliant effort. The output in the form of the movie stands class apart, more so I the light of the fact that a common viewer might expect it to be like a short film. It is not just the duration of the movie, that is one hour and forty minutes, that brings it out of the category of short films, but also the way things are presented.

The wonderful lyrics by Jaideep Saarang add a literary touch to the movie. Good background music by Immortal Productions is like icing on the cake. The child actor, who plays the role of lead protagonist Harman’s younger brother, exhibits good acting skills with very apt expressions along with good dialogue delivery. Whereas on the other hand, Harman’s mother is not up to the mark as far as her dialogue delivery is concerned, just like the kitchen in their house. The kitchen seemed just a makeshift one with empty utensil racks. It seemed very funny when in one scene she has gone to bring dinner for her husband, she leaves the kitchen and she could be seen behind outside the door. And then serves him the food.

Harman studies in a university away from his home. As per the requirements of the film, we have enough twists and turns, and moments of surprise that keep the audience glued. For instance, while playing cricket with his younger brother, Harman vanishes and the viewer is left wondering what might have happened to him. Another instance needs a special mention here, when the driver doesn’t stop the car outside the school while dropping Harman’s younger brother to school. The later on it is revealed that the driver is Harman himself. Although the audience might be left pondering as to how it happened that the Harman brought the car without going home or meeting his parents, yet let’s give it a pass!

Good camera work is also one of the plus points of the film, though there are a few errors in editing or may be filming too. Let us discuss them one by one to make the point more clear.
First, when both Harman and his younger brother are shown sitting on a bench, the face of the younger one is cropped, which looks quite odd. Even if the Director wanted to focus on Harman’s face, a half-cropped face seemed almost inhuman!
Secondly, there are a lot of blank screens in the movie. Although when used occasionally the technique creates an effect of emotional stimulation, yet technically it leaves a bad impression when used in plenty.

Thirdly, Harman had never been sent to the jail, he had remained in the police lock-up but his friend asks him about how he has managed to be out of jail.

Fourthly, when Harman is staying with Babaji, an elderly religious man played Amritpal Singh Billa, who is already established as a character artist par excellence in the industry, the telephone they are using is functioning without the cable. Although one person holds the wire outside the room, when the other has to use it, the socket lying near the telephone is empty with no wire going out from it.
Atvinder Singh, who plays the role of Harman, has exhibited very fine skill of talking with his expressions without words. The moral pricks are so aptly portrayed through his expressions when his friend, played by Jaspreet Singh Rehan, wants to take him to a booze party. Jaspreet has a short but meaningful and effective role, with which he does full justice. The boy playing Gurveer’s character has all those villainous qualities by the way of his facial expressions and voice too.

The twist of events – Harman having a drink for the first time in a party, his being caught by the police on the same day, his testing positive for alcohol and his arrest thereafter with his photo being published in the newspaper – all club together to seem a sheer height of bad luck.

Here comes in the Director’s comment on the role of parents in shaping the kids what they are. Father, rather both the parents, exhibit unjustified anger. Harman is turned out of the house. The parents don’t have even time for their kids, but they are offended at the very first instance. They go to all extremes forgetting how good a son Harman had been till then.

The turning in life of Harman comes when his own younger brother comes to get a supply of drugs from him. Harman is taken into shelter by Baba ji. Harman’s life changes again when he adopts the religious and spiritual path in his company. The death of Babaji’s son was expected event in the film, when he had asked Harman to try on his son Randeep’s suit. Finally life comes a full circle and Harman is united with his family and his younger brother too is saved from venturing out on the destructive path of drug addiction, from which Harman had been rescued.

The film is not just a comment on the problem of drug addiction; it also attempts to provide solutions. Not just that, it also portrays the successful application of suggested solutions.
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