Arjun Kapoor’s sincere act levitates this documentary-styled film- Vijayalakshmi Narayanan
Director Raj Kumar Gupta, known to have helmed sleek thrillers such as ‘Aamir’, ‘No One Killed Jessica’ and ‘Raid’, returns to the big screen with his interpretation of India’s most successful covert operation that involved nabbing a dreaded terrorist. The film is incidentally based on real-life terrorist Yasin Bhatkal, who was listed on the NIA Most Wanted until his arrest on the India-Nepal border, for his direct involvement in serial blasts that rocked major Indian cities between 2008 – 2010.
The film begins with a blast in The Pune Kitchen (name changed with reference to the German Bakery blast in February 2010) where we are first introduced to the mastermind behind the attack. His radical ideologies dictate the course of his actions and following months witness more of such incidents being reported from several Indian cities. The Indian intelligence and governance are seated ducks with no clues or inputs about the mastermind who is termed ‘Ghost’ by the media. The action shifts to Patna where undercover agent Prabhat (Arjun Kapoor) receives a phone call from an informer, who cues him about an Indian terror suspect hiding out in Kathmandu. Despite no government backing or authorization, Prabhat follows his instincts and assembles a team of five to carry out a covert operation. Thus, the manhunt begins.
Written by Gupta, the script is well-intentioned but suffers from weak execution. The screenplay is patchy to an extent that random flashbacks of bomb blasts are sporadically thrown about in between present scenes, therefore confusing viewers. Though the screen time does not exceed beyond two hours, editor Bodhaditya Banerjee seems to have rushed with his edits in a manner that the movie feels as if being played in fast-forward mode. The dialogues too, are delivered without the slightest trace of emotion or expression. Agreed, you want your characters to look real and not larger-than-life. But such deadpan execution can displace entertainment with drab.
Ultimately, the film rests on Arjun’s shoulders and the actor does deliver a sincere and spirited performance. His act comes from a place of self-awareness and the actor internalizes his strengths and vulnerabilities to give us a protagonist, worth rooting for. The otherwise dependable Rajesh Sharma is saddled with an over-the-top character. The most laughable and frankly atrocious find is the villain though.
Like I said, the intention of bringing forth the story of unsung heroes is unquestionable. Wish it was only executed with more feeling.