Going strictly by the title of the movie we'd say - blech. But after watching 143, we realize how wrong it is to judge a film based solely on its asinine title. So now, armed with a deeper understanding of the director's vision, and a firmer grasp of the story's nuances, we revise our opinion to a more accepting, a more tolerant, yech.
Agreed, there are worse films out there. 143 is definitely not the absolute worst thing you could do with two-and-half hours of your time. But ask yourself one thing first - how much campus-love-drama can you take? Because this film is one long Romeo and Juliet cliffhanger, punctuated by family tension, burning buses and the naxalite movement. And the lead pair picks the strangest moments to run off and skip around color-coordinated trees.
Sidhu (Sairam) and Sanjana (Samiksha) are childhood sweethearts, but since her brothers don't take too kindly to this relationship, they elope. There, now if you get to the theater 45-minutes late, you wouldn't have missed anything. But as the couple is making their escape, their bus is captured by a bunch of highway robbers, who set the vehicle on fire, after shooting the girl and stabbing the boy.
As you fully expect, they both survive. But, and here comes the twist in the tale, they don't lose their memory. Weren't expecting that, were you, Mr. Smartass?
So now each of the lovers thinks the other is dead, and the rest of film is about whether they will end up together or not. Gee, what do you think? Sidhu stays with a hard-nosed TV reporter (Flora) and Sanjana is rescued by naxalites, who save her life and put up with her perpetual sniffling. The leader of the pack of outlaws is a guy called Jambri, who is being hunted by the police through the jungle where he's camped with his followers. Most of the film takes place in this rather picturesque setting, and there are some fierce encounter sequences and one really ghastly scene involving charred bodies.
What's perplexing about 143 is that it has rare glimpses of sense, which are quickly enough buried under inexplicable whims. Like the police department's frustration with the naxals and their anxiety to get at these terrorists is palpable, but then they turn around and hand over a hardened criminal due to overwhelming "public sentiment". The hero's wry sense of humor suits his deadpan expression, but the effect is somewhat washed away by the hysterics of the heroine. We understand it's all very sad, but seriously, so much crying over one disaffected youth? The songs are all right, but three jing-bang jigs post-interval is pushing it.
In fact, the entire movie pushes it. The comedy is the sort that has one poor sod being beaten up repeatedly throughout the flick, the romance is limp, and the so-called twists will make you nauseous. To quote Willy the bard, this plot with any other name might have sucked as bad. But with a zinger like 143 And I Miss You, it hasn't much hope.