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CHAUTHI KOOT (Punjabi) - A perfect example of cinematic art of storytelling with a thoughtful depiction of the dark times in Punjab, without any typical provocative inclusions or the usual biased stuff. (An overview by Bobby Sing)
04 Aug, 2016 | Movie Reviews / 2016 Releases / Inspired Movies (Alphabetical) / C / Movies To See Before You Die / Drama / Indian Regional language Gems (Other Than Hindi)

Before going into details, I would like to begin by calling CHAUTHI KOOT - a ‘tricky cinematic masterpiece’ that deserves to be seen as a must by both the elders as well as the youngsters together. And the word tricky has been used for two particular reasons that are sure to clear much confusion in your mind about the film’s actual content.
Firstly the term ‘tricky’ has been used for its unique title, which (though) is in Punjabi, but still remains ‘alien’ to more than 80% of even the born Punjabis, knowing and speaking the language since their early years. Honestly speaking, I also could guess its meaning taking a clue from one particular line of Gurbani as ”Chaarey Kunda Bhaal Ke”, meaning “After searching all four directions”. So CHAUTHI KOOT here literally means “The Fourth Direction” for both the Punjabi and non-Punjabi friends looking for the title’s actual meaning.
Secondly the film is tricky, because the moment one comes to know about its basic subject revolving around the dark times of Punjab in the mid-80s, he or she starts imagining the repetitive visuals of brutal killings, exploitation, police encounters and youngsters becoming extremists as earlier shown in various films of the past en-cashing the ‘sensitive subject’. Whereas CHAUTHI KOOT has nothing of that sort at all in its two hours of duration to clear all possible doubts.
In fact the film is neither about the 1984 riots in Delhi nor is any propaganda film made against the establishment giving you any chance of saying ‘Bole So Nihaal, Sat Sri Akal’ in the theatres pumped up by some intense, aggressive sequence as expected by a certain section of viewers excited by the 80s connection.
So on the cost of disappointing many reading this detailed write-up, I would like to add that you might have seen many movies, docudramas, documentaries, short films, clips or more based on that unforgettable dark era of Punjab in the mid-80s, but CHAUTHI KOOT is simply not interested in giving you anything similar to that making a brave move. Moreover the film goes way beyond your imagination presenting an entirely different perspective that cannot be compared with any previous film on the subject till date whatsoever.
Making it more clear, this is actually pure storytelling through the medium of cinema making the best possible use of realistic visuals (cinematography), actual locations, minimum dialogues, natural sounds, effective lighting and all relatable performances transforming you back into those uncertain times, but not in any usual (filmy) manner you have anywhere experienced before.
Incorporating two different stories of Punjabi’s renowned writer Waryam Singh Sandhu, the film is directed by Gurvinder Singh, who also won the Best Director National Award for his last Punjabi film ANHEY GOHDEY DA DAAN in 2014. Executing and visualizing the writer’s vision in the most authentic manner on screen, Gurvinder narrates the two stories unrelated to each other, which might be an issue for some viewers searching for an obvious interconnection between the two. But if you can overcome this one (possible) shortcoming of the film then CHAUTHI KOOT has a lot more to offer, forcing you to think about the uncertain life lived by the innocent people of those times in hundreds of small villages without any other alternative.
Here talking about the two stories, would like to mention one particular shot that got stuck in my mind for long and it was the dissolve shot merging the two narrations, wherein the back of a cart gets converted into the back of a train’s last compartment focusing on the two railway lines.
Having praised the film in length, it also needs to be warned that this isn’t going to be an easy watch for many looking for the same cliched stuff related with Punjab’s extremist movement clashing with the party in power of those times. CHAUTHI KOOT progresses at a very slow pace, with even the dialogues coming at long intervals and silence playing a big role in the narration which might be disturbing for friends habitual of watching the fast paced mainstream cinema as a routine.   
Besides, the film is not about any political or extremist figure, any group or revolt against the system to be precise. On the contrary it’s about those ordinary people and families that unnecessarily used to get caught in the crossfire between the forces and the militants resulting in a tense atmosphere of fear and uncertainty affecting one and all.
With no intention of revealing the basic plots, I would like to suggest that if possible please avoid reading many reviews online and watching its trailer too since a lot of advance information is sure to kill the shocking surprise element of the film and you will never be able to feel the tension as conceived by the writer and director together.
Accompanied by a superbly designed sound and brilliant cinematography with breathtaking visuals of wide fields, paths, swaying trees, the lonely house and that one long shot of vehicles with old people going for a protest, CHAUTHI KOOT deserves to be seen in the theatre. And you will simply be killing the whole effort, watching it on any kind of smaller screen ranging from 5 to 32 inches following the routine habit.
Performed by mostly an unknown cast including Suvinder Vikky, Rajbir Kaur, Gurpreet Kaur Bhangu, Kanwaljit Singh, Rajbir Kaur, Harnek Aulakh, Tejpal Singh and the two kids, the well-chosen actors never make you feel the inexperience in even a single scene, for which the entire credit goes to their director Gurvinder Singh. And this remains one of the big reasons for the film getting a loud appreciation at Cannes and many other film festivals all over the world, along with receiving the Best Punjabi Film National Award for the year 2015 in the country itself.
Heading towards the end, I still feel like writing something out of the box to influence you to watch CHAUTHI KOOT strictly in the theatres, despite lesser shows and odd timings ignoring the limitations of our exhibition system. So here is some information that might make the difference helping you to take a decision as desired.
The film is on two short stories taken from Sahitya Akademi award winning collection of Waryam Singh Sandhu titled Chauthi Koot (Fourth Direction) and Main Hun Theek Thaak Haan (I’m Fine Now). So the title of the film comes from one of the original story only.
As per the writer’s recent interview, both these stories are based on true events happened with his known people and family members, written with some creative freedom in order to enhance their overall impact. The writer has also been given due credit for the film’s dialogues too as some of the lines have been used as it is in the film, as there in the original published stories.
In one of his radio interview, director Gurvinder Singh reveals the actual meaning of his title CHAUTHI KOOT as the fourth direction a person normally fears to go for. The most risky and uncertain direction of the four, which one doesn’t wish to take until it becomes a matter of life and death without any choice left. However, after watching the film, I personally thought of another meaning of the title wherein the fourth direction can also be denoted by those innocent speechless creatures having no value of their own caught between the militants, authorities and the ordinary-common man representing the other three.
Giving you some indicative details, CHAUTHI KOOT is one unique film that dares to present those difficult times by focusing on the loving adorable relationship between a man and his pet animal against the backdrop of militancy and military forces in Punjab. Being more specific, one of its stories entirely talks about the pet DOG in the house and how it becomes the linking force between the family, armed forces and the visiting militants.
Truly surprising you with its strong, thought provoking content, moving far ahead than any of the earlier films made on Punjab’s separatists movement, CHAUTHI KOOT’s soul lies in its true to life, innovative stories fulfilling the basic purpose of CINEMA……..and that’s the reason it goes into the Movies To See Before You Die List at BTC.
Hoping that the above few lines rightly inspire you to go for it at the earliest, please do watch this film in the theatres as that’s the only way we can support such courageous, meaningful cinema and its exceptionally talented team thinking out of the routine.
Rating : Movies To See Before You Die
(Note: Wish they had made an entirely different trailer, as the present one reveals a lot killing the surprise element, giving many vague ideas to the viewers about something, which the film doesn’t directly talks about in details.)

Tags : Chauthi Koot Review by Bobby Sing, Chauthi Koot Punjabi Film Review by Bobby Sing, Chauthi Koot on Punjab, Militancy movement in Punjab in the 80s, Movies To See Before You Die List at BTC, Gurvinder Singh, Must Watch Movies, Not To Be Missed Punjabi Movies, Authentic Movies in Punjab Issue, Worth Watching Films Reviews at bobbytalkscinema.com
04 Aug 2016 / Comment ( 2 )
Tejpal Singh

Dear Bobby Sing ji,

Thanks for a review which would set the expectation right for the viewer.
The trailers surely create some impression about the 80's dark times of punjab and for people who have read, felt or lived those times, the memories of such incidents are easily awakened.

Thanks!!
Tejpal singh

Bobby Sing

Dear Tejpal Singh Ji,
Yes the trailers give you an impression as if the film is all about the militancy and typical portrayal of that era.
However after watching, it should ideally enlighten the viewer in a completely different unexpected and rare manner.

Keep Visiting and Writing in,
Cheers!
 

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