About the story: At a military action, Ranjeet Singh (Sanjay Dutt) crosses the border to Pakistan and disappears without trace. Five years later the inhabitants of his village are considering him dead, only his wife Pammi (Tabu) and his sister Simran (Mahima Chaudhary) still cling to their believe that Ranjeet is still alive. Actually, shortly thereafter Ranjeet is released in the context of an exchange of prisoners. But he has lost his memory. In vain Pammi tries to remind him of the past they shared together. The only things which again and again flash up in Ranjeet’s mind’s eye are massive physical and psychic torture and the face of a man. One day, Ranjeet recognizes this face in the temple of Gurdwara. It belongs to the terrorist Bakhtavar (Rahul Dev) who now fears that Ranjeet could lead the Indian military on his trail. The encounter with Bakhtavar renders his memory to Ranjeet who from this moment on starts hunting Bakhtavar. At Simran’s wedding with Ravi (Chandrachur Singh) the fight between Ranjeet and the terrorists breaks out...
When Sanjay Dutt on November 28, 2006 finally was acquitted from all TADA charges, some producers – in order to take advantage of Sanjay’s popularity wave – suddenly were in a hurry to complete and release films with him which had been in production for a long time. Like Nehlle Pe Dehlla, Sarhad Paar – A New Dawn too had been in production for many years, a process which had become even more complicated when the makers amidst of the shooting decided to re-write the script as the original anti-Pakistani undertone no longer was adequate due to the political developments. This could not go well – and indeed Sarhad Paar, despite some beautifully self-contained sequences, makes just a half-baked impression. Absolutely beyond my grasp are the sound problems: Once Sanjay’s dialogue partner sounds like talking from outer space, and above all, some passages were obviously not dubbed by Sanjay himself, and I seriously wonder why this was necessary as Sanjay had used the time granted by his bail extension for, among other things, the Sarhad Paar dubbing. Had these passages been forgotten and then in a hurry been completed without him in order not to lose more time until the release?
Well, it was no big loss for Sanjay, for this Ranjeet Singh was nothing of a challenge for him and rather belongs to the category of "roles accepted for diversion’s sake". All in all, Sanjay is gravely underemployed in Sarhad Paar, especially in the first half where he even in the flashbacks to the happy times before his captivity hardly got something to do. A more complicating fact was that the film was partially shot in a time when Sanjay was under enormous mental pressure because of his court case and had to fight for every moment of concentration. And this shows. Okay, we know that Sanju is definitely able to deliver terrific performances even under brutal mental tension, Lage Raho Munnabhai is the best evidence for that. But maybe in Sarhad Paar too many things simply went wrong.
It surely is not his female co-stars’ fault. Tabu is wonderful, even though similarly underemployed as Sanjay. Mahima Chaudhary with her bubbling temperament is an adequate antagonist to the more quiet characters played by Tabu and Sanjay. On the other hand, Chandrachur Singh is the same sleeping pill as (nearly) always. Rahul Dev bestowes his terrorist leader with a more subliminal dangerousness which is very good for this character. About ten or fifteen years ago this would have been Sanju’s role, I bet.
Like I said: Sarhad Paar is no big-time. It seems unfinished, contains some unneeded comic scenes and a superfluous item number which also is so short that you wonder why it was included at all. But the film has its moments, especially the scenes with Tabu and Sanju are simply lovely (and I seriously plead for another casting of this jodi). And when Ranjeet in one of the flashbacks suggests himself as Pammi’s bridegroom, then for a moment the Sanjay Dutt as you know him flashes up. This is a scene to watch three times in a row. Too bad that it is the only one.
Produced by Nimbus Motion Pictures; Directed by Raman Kumar
108 Min.; DVD: Madhu, English Subtitles (including songs)