How Many Stereotypes Can A Movie Have?
A young man, Sameer, shares a hostel room with an alleged terrorist and is caught by the Anti Terrorist Squad. He is forced to work for the ATS because there are threats of even more bomb blasts. Sameer fits right into the slum area and works for the cops. In the most convoluted plot the story moves ahead with lots of violence and you come away wondering why didn’t they just kill everyone and save us the trouble.
Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub is a decent actor who plays the lead ‘Sameer’. He is caught by the officers of the ATS who are chasing a dreaded terrorist responsible for serial bombings in Hyderabad. Sameer pleads with the officers that the terrorist was merely a roomie. But the ATS transports him to Ahmedabad, and persuades him to help them catch the terrorist. Sameer now has to stay with the terrorist’s mother (Seema Biswas, in a pretty convincing role as Khala who makes and delivers lunches to people, hence Tiffin Khala). The terrorist has a brother too, Shahid, who runs a bakery.
Of course there is religious politics involved, and Muslims are happily portrayed as terrorists. Once you see that this is a horrendous assumption, you begin to see the stereotypes. There is a Hindu journalist who is fierce and feisty, searching for the children lost during the Gujarat riots. She gets threats from the bad guys and reports the bomb threats to the ATS. The ATS officer is Hindu and committed and honest. The young lad Sameer is Muslim, but is a good Muslim. The brother of the terrorist turns out to be the kingpin of terrorists. There is also a painful street theatre leader called Manto (named after the famous writer) who attempts to bring peace between communities. And yes, there is a mentally challenged young kid who is so sweet, you know he is going to die, and he does.
The first half of the film promises a little, but then all the red herrings go nowhere. That’s when you begin to notice that the ATS officer is supposed to be Gujarati – his surname is Desai – and he has a strong Bengali accent (the actor is Subrat Dutta, and the filmmakers could have easily named him Bose or Bannerji or anything else) Sameer is meant to be staying with the Khala, but he wander about the city and Khala does not ask him of his whereabouts. There is a romantic thread between the journalist and theATS officer, but it sort of goes nowhere because he says: the first floor of my home is empty, stay there for safety, and then shows her a room.
Soon you realise that he movie is going nowhere and when the blasts happen, you have figured out who is responsible already. The trouble is the last twenty minutes where the big bad guy and the chap who is carrying out the blasts have a huge conversation telling the audience why and what and who they are and when the planning happened (basically a lesson on Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent) and it is this exposition that kills you.
(this review appears on nowrunning dot com)