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An engaging, must-be-heard story told with great balance. Yet, half-hearted focus on relationships distracts from the main story.
You see the Naxalites' point of view that the administration of the country cannot be bothered with the poorest of poor citizens. You understand the frustration of a handful of police officers who are pretty much rendered impotent while wanting to do the right thing. You wonder about right and wrong. A movie that has done all of this has pretty much done its job. Only thing is you wish you weren't distracted by relationships that are too shallow and a few songs including an item number!
I really would like to know if there is some research on the positive impact of an absolutely avoidable item song in a film. Especially in a film that takes itself very seriously and expects nothing less from us. Similarly, I understand the need for an emotional base to a subject so grim as the rotting roots of the political and administrative systems of India. But, why such a half-hearted one?
Adil Khan and Kabir's (Abhay Deol) friendship isn't given a base convincing enough to make us invest ourselves in their dilemmas. In fact, there seems to be no internal struggle as far the friendship is concerned, then why have it in the first place. The story could well have been told without that relationship, except for maybe the weak point it was trying to make that the situation in the naxal areas is so bad that a conscientious person would choose to be on their side over his personal relationships, in pukka Namak Haraam/Avatar style.
The same flakiness pervades the friendship between Mrs. Khan (Esha Gupta) and Kabir. It also seeps through how conveniently Kabir is accepted by the Naxal movement through the film, right to the end.
Esha Gupta in her short and dispensable role adds melodrama and over-acting. Arjun Rampal's labored attempt at showing restraint is too visible. While his stiff body language might go well with that of a hardened inspector, but yet I couldn't but wonder what depth another actor could have brought to his character. Anjali Patil on the other hand comes across as the frustrated and angered rebel that she plays. Abhay Deol as usual fits into his role with with ease. The rest of the cast is balanced by Om Puri, Manoj Bajpai and Kabir Bedi as convincing influencers on one hand and uneasy performances by the actors who play ministers, senior police officers and the businessman's son.
Fortunately though, all these things, while distractions do not take away from the balance that writer, Anjum Rajabali has maintained while presenting the arguments of the Naxalites. It can be argued that the law and administration system have been painted a thick shade of gray. But do any of the things portrayed about the corrupt system ring untrue or difficult to believe? Hardly. Similarly, the dialogue is written with a lot of thought and is key to striking the balance.
Yet, there is that feeling that creeps in the las half hour the film of having watched something halfway through. Of course, the war is still on. But I just wish that either the whole friendship angle was completely eliminated or it was given a lot more depth that would have added many layers to the film's social message.
- meetu, a part of the audience
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