Acclaimed maker Raj Kumar Gupta’s patriotic story salutes the spirit of unsung heroes of the nation
Two things that sum the film up. Kabhi kabhi hume lagta hai Yusuf (name of the terrorist in the film) se zyada khatra hume Dilli mein baithe logo se hai, says Prabhat (Arjun Kapoor). Secondly, your heart weeps when an army officer ruthlessly pushes the core team while the government officials are briefing the press.
India’s Most Wanted. The title of the film. Naturally you would want to know who he/she is. Although renamed here in the film, you know who the makers are referring to. But since he’s behind the bars, the makers could have named him or referred to him once, say during end credits. But they’ve chosen to do away with it completely, at times putting you off. With ample moments where you are invested in the drama, it is also a socio-political commentary on the conditions in which agents operate. With the likes of Aamir, No One Killed Jessica, and Raid in the past, Gupta ensures you have the best time in theaters while leaving with a heavy heart and pride for people who breathe nationalism.
Based on the arrest of Indian Mujahideen terrorist Yasin Bhatkal by undercover intelligence officers in 2013, the film follows the journey of unlikely heroes tracking a terrorist, making an arrest without having to fire a single bullet, with no monetary or moral support from the government.
Firstly, its a clear case of improper casting. No matter how hard Arjun Kapoor tries to act tough and pretend that he can get the terrorist, he doesn’t convince you that he actually can. Adding to the woes are supporting actors joining in the mission. You wish there were better and more determined actors on board.
Reality isn’t high octane or robust. Its routine minus all thrill. The thrill is in the minds of people involved, which needs to be felt. Here the film takes you in a zone that’t not edgy, hence disappointing you to se extent.
Since the story is based on a true event, your heart does go out for the people involved. There are moments where you would want to ask one thing to the agents- why and how can they love their country so much? Yes, the film evokes such sense in you where you are blown at how agents sacrifice their lives with no selfish interest.
It is not your regular espionage film. Here the agents are extremely common people, with no gadgets or armor at their disposal, making the conflict in the arc all the way more exciting. The reason why you believe this can’t be pulled off is the only reason why Gupta probably made this film. The idea in the film doesn’t seem convincing, making the narrative engaging. You kind of know the ending, but how makers take you there is worth appreciating.
If whatever is shown is believed to be true, it gives a grueling glance into how tricky the world of undercover operations is; and with constant fear of death, its all the way more menacing. There are loopholes too. Its not racy and fast paced, something that you naturally crave for in such a film. Its the reality and doing away with dramatization that justifies the routine set-up of things. It’s slow at times and you don’t find yourself on the edge of your seats. Blame it on the expectations with such films, this one here stands its own ground. Whatever the drawbacks of the screenplay are in the first half, a supremely engaging 2nd half balances. You bite your nails here.
Arjun Kapoor is decent and does the best he can. Unfortunately, his best isn’t even good for the plot. He has same expressions in almost every scene and doesn’t evoke sympathy or pride for the character. Whatever pride you feel is because of the smart writing by Gupta.
Rajesh Sharma is okay, but doesn’t deliver to his best potential. Prashanth Alexander, Shantilal Mukherjee, Devendra Mishra, and Gaurav Mishra are just okay.
The casting is the biggest weak link here.
Music by Amit Trivedi is decent and a couple of songs in the background do add to the depth. Still, it could be better. The lyrics of the songs by Amitabh Bhattacharya are very good. Background score by Trivedi could be better, to give the narrative more meaning.
Cinematography by Dudley is very good, and complements the story telling well. Production design by Rita Ghosh is satisfactory. You are invested in the drama, majorly because of the realism the film offers through its sets.
Editing by Bodhaditya Bannerjee is sharp and justifies the needs of the film. Going in sync with the plot and narrative, it attempts well to keep you in a zone that’s both patriotic and psychological.
The film even with minor hiccups makes you stand for your agents who serve the country with no intention of getting any credit. It’s a tough film to understand- not story wise, but allegorically on what it tries to convey. It wrenches you making you wish if you could do anything to make the conditions any better. Gupta once again paints a film with his signature, something that he is applauded for.