A great story takes you beyond the narrative to engage you emotionally.
This is what makes the 2017 Hindi prison drama Lucknow Central so engaging.
Good-natured Kishen Mohan Girhotra (Farhan Akhtar) is consumed by his desire to form a band and share his music with the world. While pursuing his big break, he is wrongly accused and jailed for the murder of an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer.
Kishen is sent to Lucknow Central, a high-security jail. He soon finds himself the target of both guards and inmates.
When the local Chief Minister demands to host the annual Prison Band Competition at Lucknow Central, Kishen sees an opportunity. With the help of the headstrong NGO worker Gayatri Kashyap (Diana Penty), he organizes a band for the competition as a means to an end.
His real goal is to escape from Lucknow Central.
The casting for the film could not have been better with Gippy Grewal as Parminder Singh Gill, a lovelorn Punjabi and hostile cellmate of Kishen; Deepak Dobriyal as the thoughtful and calculating handyman Victor Chattopadhyay; Rajesh Sharma as Purushottam Madan Pandit, the head of the tailoring unit and one of two kingpins vying for loyalty from the inmate population; and Inaamulhaq as Dikkat Ansari, a maintenance worker who has a key to every door in the prison.
The threatening head jailer (Ronit Roy) figures out Kishen's plan even before the band is formed. Despite his protestations about the ulterior motives of the band members, the warden demands the band be formed and the competition move forward.
This rag-tag group of convicts come together to form the band and soon find a connection through their shared determination which evolves into a deep friendship.
The film's premise was inspired by a news article about inmates in Uttar Pradesh’s Central Jail making a music band of their own. In 2007, Lucknow Central Jail senior superintendent VK Jain decided to use music as part of a prison reform initiative. He organized a band that would participate in an annual event where inmates from several prisons could come together and perform. The band "Healing Hearts" was formed and soon became a national sensation. The band now receives bookings to perform popular Bollywood songs at weddings and other private functions.
Before the launch of Lucknow Central, tweets appeared with the hashtag #KishenNirdoshHai ("Kishen is innocent"). This brilliant use of social media piqued interest in the film.
Cast and crew also visited some of the prison populations. Besides visiting the members of Healing Hearts at Lucknow Central, the cast visited Yerawada Central Jail in Pune to participate in Independence Day celebrations and entertain the prisoners. This gave the cast and crew a realistic view of life in prison, elements of which they were able to incorporate into the film.
The soundtrack of the film - composed by Arjunna Harjaie, Sukhwinder Singh, Mychael Danna, Rochak Kohli and Tanishk Bagchi - reflects the benefits of merging a variety of talents. The songs "Teen Kabooter" and "Kaavaan Kaavaan" are showstoppers that just may get you to sing along in your best attempt at Hindi.
The following playlist features the trailers, character studies and behind-the-scenes videos from Lucknow Central.
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