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31st October Review – Well-intentioned but average film 

The film revolving around the killing of Indira Gandhi has its share of ups and downs. 

Keyur Seta

Rating: 2.5/5 

The thing with communal riots is that it ends up making common people its victims. Various Hindi films are based on this aspect. National Award winning filmmaker Shivaji Lotan Patil’s 31st October’s is just another name in the long list. The film has its moments but there are issues that stop it from being much more. 

The film takes place on 31 October 1984. It was the day Indira Gandhi, India’s late Prime Minister, was murdered in New Delhi. The story revolves around Davinder Singh (Vir Das). He is a government employee staying in a humble house with his wife Tajinder (Soha Ali Khan) and three children. He is satisfied in his own simple, little world. It was just like any other day for Davinder and many like him. 

But all hell breaks loose when Gandhi is murdered by a couple of her bodyguards just when she stepped out of her bungalow. As the bodyguards were Sikh, everyone belonging to that religion are looked down upon by Hindu fanatics. In no time, gruesome communal riots spread all over the city. Davinder and his family’s simple life turns topsy-turvy as their mere survival comes under serious threat.

31st October works well on the screenplay level. It’s a fast paced film that doesn’t go off-topic. This coupled with a length of just 102 minutes ensures that there is no need to look at the watch even a bit. In a period film, the production design plays a crucial role. That aspect is taken care off well here. 

But as far as the first half is concerned, the proceedings don’t create much impact. The fast screenplay isn’t complemented at the dialogue and direction level. At times, the lines fall in the amateur category and the presentation lacks proper conviction. Another questionable point here is that there is just no mention of Operation Blue Star since the killing of Indira was a consequence to it. 

Thankfully though, the film raises its standard in the second half. The proceedings become more gripping as the family tries to save itself from the riots. The pre-climax and climax also boast of some moving and nail-biting moments. 

Coming to the technical aspects, the camerawork is simple and as per the need. The background score shouldn’t have been so loud. It appears like a forced attempt to create an impact. A couple of songs, ‘Yakeen’ and ‘Andhere,’ sung by Sonu Nigam and Asha Bhosale, are soulful and fit the situations well. 

Vir Das is known as a comedian and has got stereotyped as an actor with a comic touch. Over here, he gets to do something hugely different from what he has tried before. But more importantly, he does manage to fit in the character and makes it believable. On few occasions, he struggles with the Punjabi accent though. Soha Ali Khan, as his wife, shows her acting talent quite a few times. She succeeds in speaking through expressions, mostly in the ending moments. However, even she faces problems with Punjabi here and there. 

The supporting cast manages to impress. Deepraj Rana and Vineet Sharma, known for their roles in Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster and Singham respectively, once again get noticed for their diligent acts. These two actors deserve to be seen more. Well-known Marathi film actor, Nagesh Bhonsle leaves behind a terrific impact as the baddie cop of Delhi. Dayashankar Pandey doesn’t get much scope. Lakhwinder Singh and Raj get noticed in cameos. 

Overall, 31st October is a well-intentioned film with its ups and downs. With not much visibility, it won’t succeed in earning well at the box-office. 

Director: Shivaji Lotan Patil 
Producers: Harry Sachdeva
Writers: Harry Sachdeva and Amit Tulli 
Cast: Vir Das, Soha Ali Khan, Deepraj Rana, Vineet Sharma
Music: Vijay Verma
Genre: Drama
Runtime: 102 minutes