Lamhaa poster


wogma rating: Add to that never-watched 'To Watch' list (?)

quick review:

Lamhaa is a Kashmir-issue recap enacted by Sanjay Dutt, Bipasha Basu, Anupam Kher and oh yeah, Kunal Kapoor. It's done in a rush and tries too hard to sell itself to the audience who is presumed to like loud background music and unnecessary drama. Overall, it loses out because it's neither subtle nor loud enough to be a crowd pleaser.

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Director: Rahul Dholakia
Running time: 115 minutes
Genres: Action, Thriller
More Movie Info

Lamhaa - Preview

Like I do for all preview/buzz posts, I try to scour through as much non-gossip information as possible about this week's third upcoming release, Lamhaa. Usually, I've to skim through glam-shots of the lead pair, someone's affair with the other, the latest marketing gimmick tried. But for Lamhaa, to begin with there isn't much out there. And whatever I did find had headlines like -

"Bipasha hopes Censor would be sensitive towardsLamhaa"

"Lamhaa producer threatened"

"No plan to ban Lamhaa, says Govt"

"Govt cancels Lamhaa's Srinagar premiere"

"Kashmir thriller Lamhaa set for release as anger mounts"

"Lamhaa no documentary on Kashmir: Rahul Dholakia" where director, Rahul Dholakia has to go on to explain that they had to remove the word "most" from a dialogue which translates to "Kashmir is the most dangerous place"

…and last but not the least, or in fact, the most disturbing - something as trivial as "Not mocking Aishwarya Rai in Lamhaa: filmmakers", where we have the industry's first family give its blessings to the film with headlines like "Big B fine with Ash slur" Read this particular one for the irony.

And then we have filmmakers right to expression curbed to avoid controversy by changing the story itself.

My role was of a militant-turned-politician named Kuku Pare, a real-life character. It has been completely chopped because the director and producer thought it might invite trouble for the film

True, no one asked the makers to take that decision, but that they had to do that of their own accord is as shameful for us as democracy.

Why do artistes have to be worried about censorship? Why should there be any talk of Government involvement in the release of a film? Why should the celebration of the completion of the film not be shared with the people who the makers are grateful to? And WHY does a film need to be approved by the people or the family who is named in the film to make a point?

Afraid of seeing our reflection in the mirror?

Doesn't anyone care about the creative energies spent by our filmmakers in just preemptively fighting fires that might cause more damage than they are willing to handle? DUH-UH! What kind of a question is that to ask!?

Will our filmmakers always have to be more worried about the ever-ready-to-get-offended citizens instead of catering to make a better product who wants to see a non-gloss, so-what-if-controversial issue?

Are we as a nation that immature child who doesn't understand the meaning of "point of view" or is so full of itself for no apparent reason that our collective thinking is "my way or the will-send-you-high-up-heavenwards-way?"

What child-like questions I ask, no? But I wonder if just reading this stuff agitates me as a reader/viewer, how frustrating it must be for the filmmaker who doesn't care about his comfort and goes on to risk his life to make something he believes in -

When a Mirwaiz speaks at a rally in Jama Masjid, he easily pulls a crowd of 4-5 lac people. It is with his help that we shot in the Jama Masjid- the only Indians to do so, and that too on “Aakhri Jumma”! It was spectacular site. We had to position our cameras eight hours prior to the speech and stay put. No food, no water, no ciggies as well- for a constant 12 hours for a possible 12 second shot in the film.

I think we can see a glimpse here -

Now add to this gamut, the basic need of the film to make money -

We all knew we wanted to do a film on Kashmir but we had no idea about what. And I was very clearly told that it had to be commercial in that sense. Because there was a possibility of stars, we didn't even know which stars. So, the idea originated because of the place and not because of the story as such
It was just that I wanna work with you, you wanna work with me and both fascinated by the place. The only condition was "please don't make a Parzania make a commercial film.

And to think of it, the first I heard of this film, the things that got me excited were the name Rahul Dholakia's first Parzania and a burqa clad Bipasha having to speak urdu

Oh yeah, and the music is pretty non-standard and something to look forward to too. Infact, Milliblog thinks it is enough reason to welcome Mithoon back. Music aloud loved the tracks and Hindustan Times thinks of the album as robust and done justice to theme of film. For Amanda Sodhi at PFC though it didn't work the first time around but it grew on her as she listened to them again. So it is only logical for the analysts at Bollywood hungama to believe that a penetrated reach of the album can't be expected since not all would be enticed to play songs which have their roots in the condition of Kashmir.

It is remarkable that the entire team takes all of this in their stride and still makes a film with non-standard casting, and resisting the urge to use glamor to market the film. Please tell me I'm not the only one who feels like going into the film, already admiring it, instead of the usual clean slate.

This article was first published at meetu's Times of India Blog

- meeta, a part of the audience

After watching 2 brilliant films back-to-back,Tere Bin Laden and Udaan, I was all set for a hatrick. But Sanjay Dutt's slo-mo entry with loud background music showed my expectations their place. But my heart still hung on to the hope that Rahul Dholakia will surely make a strong commentary. And commentary it was. Lamhaa is a revision of Kashmir's saga from 1989 and a running description of how nothing has changed since then. It’s not boring but doesn't get you involved except for the last reel or so, where the atrocities of the jihaadis are very effectively slapped on your face.

It is arguably an insurmountable task for a film to address the nexus of one fascist faction, another faction, Indian government, Pakistani Government, idealists, military, and the common man - each of them with their aspirations, filled with back-stabbers and double-crossers. I'd assume it is only understandable for the film to rush through this all without much attention to details - characterization, plot and pace. But this is accompanied with a notion of typical, shrill music in the background and dramatization techniques that should be reserved for infant-amateurs. And that is like drawing one more straw, if not the last one.

The last one would be the predictable dialogues. It was disheartening to see actor after actor repeat the same thing in the same words over and over again - "No one cares about Kashmir and her real issues, everyone has their own agenda masked by some altruism." What starts out as a history lesson, ends up in an attempt to brainwash us with repetitive mention of the current state of affairs. Within this, the name 'Strong' and its derivatives are used so many times that you get desensitized to the beauty and the terror of those 2 syllables. (Geeky joke warning: Someone seems to have briefed the writer that google ranks videos according to number of times a word is repeated in its content!)

So in line with dialogues that exist as filler, as if a silent frame is penalized, there is a choppy screenplay. The performances aren't out of the ordinary, nor are they extraordinarily bad. Anupam Kher, of course, comes out really well as the inspirational leader. Kunal Kapoor is more or less flat as the principled leader of the masses. Bipasha's emotional outbursts are very involving. But she neither brings glamor quotient nor does she fit into the role of someone who has grown up in a conservative environment. She's too straight and her gait too city-girl like to be entirely convincing.

You could've taken all of this in your stride if the story that evolves in the second half came a little earlier. In the attempt to start macro and narrow it slowly down to one event, the writers lost track of time. From characters that represent entities the plot gravitates towards individual A&Os. This focus on people that belong to a group is very intriguing, but it's too little, too late.

It is remarkable that the vanity of an issue with global repercussions comes across, despite all the flaws. By the end, your heart goes out to the Kashmiris and you are touched. And that, is Lamhaa's true success.

- meeta, a part of the audience

32 reviewers(?) - 7 yays 5 so-so 20 nays

Warning: clicking on "full review" will take you to an external website that could contain spoilers.

Thumbs up, filmi cafe : ...Dutt in an unrecognizable look is in top form and goes beyond the character.... full review

Thumbs up, by Kaveree Bamzai, india today : ...There's a brilliantly crafted Haji, played by Anupam Kher, ironically a Kashmiri Pandit in real life... full review

Thumbs up, by Kshitij Mehta , J.A.M : ...While it starts off on a perfect note, the narrative slows down considerably, but the second half is power packed and keeps you gripped... full review

Thumbs up, by IANS, NDTV : ...The high-octane screenplay has no space or time to shed tears for the innocent and the dead Read more at: full review

Thumbs up, by Sukanya Verma, Rediff : ...Rather his Lamhaa is like an elaborate montage of innumerable episodes, voices and concerns while trying to put the pieces together for its surprisingly loose climax. This is both engrossing and exhausting in turns... full review

Thumbs up, by Noyon Jyoti Parasara, Seeds and Deeds : ...One thing in the film that might be disturbing to the rest of India is the general opinion of the Kashmiris. ... full review

Thumbs up, by K N Gupta, : ...Though the director doesn't pass any judgment he does prove that arms fail to solve any political problem. ... full review

So-So, by GZP, BollyPlus : ...Didn't realize the movie had ended. Too abrupt.... full review

So-So, by Daliya Ghose, Bollywood Mantra : ...The screenplay of ‘Lamhaa’ was very strong at some point but in some instances, it was very disappointing... full review

So-So, by Deepa Garimella, : ...There's not much by way of earth-shaking suspense or even surprise, but as a tale it is gripping enough... full review

So-So, by Satyen K. Bordoloi, Now : ...Audiences might find it little difficult to follow the many twists and revelations in the film. ... full review

So-So, by Khalid Mohamed, Passion for Cinema : ...Yet its noble intentions and a bid to go beyond the surfacial situation in the troubled valley of Kashmir, elevate the outcome to a notch above the candy-floss and the commonplace... full review

Thumbs down, by Nikhil Kumar, Apun Ka Choice : ...hypocritical cinema....For what else it is when the film’s protagonist walks through the streets of Kashmir with a rockstar’s swagger, cigarette in mouth, Ray Ban on perched on his nose, keffiyeh stylishly wrapped around his neck...and oh...metal guitar riffs grunging away in the background. ... full review

Thumbs down, by Bobby Sing, Bobby Talks : ...big disappointment coming from the director of “Parzania”... full review

Thumbs down, by Roshni Mulchandani, Bolly Spice : ...the writer has merely put together a bunch of stories that can easily be found in the media and just sewed them together... full review

Thumbs down, by Taran Adarsh, Bollywood Hungama : ...researched extensively on the issue and LAMHAA does boast of some razor-sharp moments, but the viewer is keen to have an insider's viewpoint on Kashmir, something that we haven't read/seen [on news channels/films] earlier, which LAMHAA just doesn't provide. ... full review

Thumbs down, by Deepa Gahlot, cinemaah : ...The one hair-raising scene, of Bipasha being attacked by burqa-clad women in the street, does not any impact on the plot later, so is merely used as an ‘item.’... full review

Thumbs down, desi hits : ...Most dialogues are poorly written, making the roles very ineffective... full review

Thumbs down, by Deepa Deosthalee, Film Impressions : ...Far too much time is spent introducing the various players in the game... full review

Thumbs down, by Sukanya Venkatraghavan, Filmfare : ...could have been told with less fuss and more coherence... full review

Thumbs down, by Pankaj Sabnani, : ...The romantic angle between Vikram and Aziza is ludicrous.... full review

Thumbs down, by Pritam Roy, : ...when you finally come to know about it, it seems just too trivial... full review

Thumbs down, by Mayank Shekhar, Hindustan Times : ...The film, in its movements and background score, adopts a tone of serious urgency. Neither however can conceal the nothingness, or immeasurable vastness (take your pick) within.... full review

Thumbs down, by Gaurav Malani, indiatimes : ...It takes time to absorb the wide-ranging characters and their varied conflicts in the film and yet you do not understand all of them... full review

Thumbs down, by Komal Nahta, koimoi : ...The proceedings are so technical that they fail to involve the audience for the simple reason that most people are unaware and not interested in an indepth study of all that is happening in the strife-torn Kashmir. ... full review

Thumbs down, by Sanjukta Sharma, Live Mint : ...Every other dialogue has the word “Kashmir” in them... full review

Thumbs down, by Sid, MH-31 Fun Unlimited : ...Lamha suffers by eschewing individual plot threads in favor of a macroscopic viewpoint about a subject that yearns for a fresh perpective... full review

Thumbs down, by Sarita Tanwar, MiD DAY : ...Cameraman James Fowlds does a splendid job capturing all the action.... full review

Thumbs down, Movie Talkies : ...What comes out is the usual nexus between politicians, businessmen, arms dealers and the Pakistani ISI... full review

Thumbs down, by Sonia Chopra, Sify Movies : ...What we see over the next two hours is a hollow plot playing itself out self-seriously.... full review

Thumbs down, by Janhvi Patel, StarBoxOffice : ...It would be a good idea to watch the film with a Kashmiri. ... full review

Thumbs down, by TheThirdMan, Upper Stall : ...Sanjay Dutt and Anupam Kher come off best but are little more than adequate. ... full review

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This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.

Plot Summary

A complicated web of groups and sub-groups all want a piece of Kashmir. Who does Kashmir belong to?

What Worked

Not too much other than the theme and the climax as observed in the main review

What did not

Note: This section simply lists the things that I did not like in this movie. This is not the overall impression about this movie. Please read the full review here

  • The flashback narrative in the beginning
  • The grain-textured, dark close-ups
  • Whatever happened to Bipasha's kickboxing stunts, where did they disappear after a short appearance
  • The sex scandal, looked very contrived so that the issue is touched upon.
  • The whole defense budget scene
  • The entire bunch of really smart people were gullible and fooled by the defense budget

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: uhhh...India, Pakistan, Kashmir....yeah loads!
  • Language: Strong abuses explicitly used 3-4 times
  • Nudity & Sexual content: None
  • Concept: That of the political tension and the suffering in Kashmir
  • General Look and Feel: Grainy and very dark

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

Lead Actors:
Character Artists:
Music Director:

Lamhaa - Cast, crew, links

Official Sites:
Background Score:
Action Choreography:
Music Director:
Art Direction:
Running time:
115 minutes

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