*this review contains no spoilers*
I went to watch Road to Sangam only knowing that it was a film with a connection with Gandhi and had won some awards. What transpired on the screen in the next 135 minutes changed my perception of Gandhi and changed me as a person. I am some one who did not regard Gandhi in the high esteem a lot of people regard him in. He, to me, was some one who was adamant and threatened the nation with his blackmails which were carried out promptly by his followers. What I did not understand was that it was the power of Gandhi's thoughts which made people act the way they did. It had reason, it had logic.
Coming to the film. We are given a rationale and the film makes a strong case for it. You almost start believing in the thinking behind it. Then, there is a slow process of change which is so slow and gradual. It is not some thing which happens right away or through a flash bulb of genius. It is realization in process. The way the change is shown is convincing enough for some one to believe in the Gandhian principle.
The film has many layers to it. It is a film which asks 'what defines Karma'. It is a film about holding upright the faith Gandhi showed in the muslims of India. It is a film about how a person be it a muslim or a person of any religion (or even an agnostic or atheist for that matter) should behave. That's the bigger picture.
Then the film touches on tough subjects like partition and the role of an Indian muslim. Many layers and subjects touched, all given due space.
Paresh Rawal is excellent in the role of a man who works based on logic and is principled at the same time. I can't think of a better actor to carry out the role. The part of a muslim from the state of Uttar Pradesh, perfect with the local accent, who has his own little mannerisms and characteristics is played perfectly. The facial expressions are not exaggerated. The lines are spoken with a calm balance about them, exactly how the character would say it.
The pace of the movie is neither fast, nor slow. It has it's own rhythm and flows rather than moves. The cinematography is excellent with aspects of small town India (the city Allahabad in this case) shown. There are panoramic views and then there is attention to detail. A man making aloo tikki is shown for instance to capture the flavour of the chaat which is so popular in small town India.
Coming to Gandhi films, I have seen quite a few. Gandhi was a great biographical sketch. Gandhi My Father shows the flaws of Gandhi - the father of his son. Lage Raho Munnabhai which was so popular tries to explain the Gandhi way of thinking and does a fair job of it. It has the bollywood masala mixed in it, was perfectly marketed and was a huge success. Gandhigiri became a trend. Sardar, again starring Paresh Rawal (as Sardar Patel), paints Gandhi as a principled, yet stubborn man whose will might have cost India There are umpteenth movies which are presented as documentaries on Gandhi, most of which are holistic. No movie portrays Gandhism, like Road To Sangam does. At least none I have seen.
The show I went for was almost canceled as only one other person showed up at the ticket counter. In the end, just five of us came to watch the movie which they did screen thankfully. One engineer who had studied from Allahabad itself remarked that Gandhism is dead as no one turned up for this movie. I remarked that Munnabhai was a huge success. So it is a marketing flaw and lack of funds which meant audiences didn't come to watch this film. There is another aspect to it. It isn't a masala flick like many other bollywood flicks or like Munnabhai. It is not boring in any way, mind.
I give the movie a perfect 10/10. Don't think it could have been made better.