Rating: 4 stars, out of 5
Verdict: A must see, once, on the big screen. Wish it deserved repeat viewings
1) Empathetic portrayal of Afghan civilian plight, sandwiched between US and Taliban forces
2) Excellent capture of Afghan terrain, audacious attempt at action scenes to rival international movies
3) Thought provoking, than just drawing a black and white picture of Good Vs. Evil
4) Kamal Haasan’s superb acting and storytelling skills – especially, as a comrade warrior on Afghan soil
5) Exemplary acting of Rahul Bose, Jaideep Ahlawat – credits to them as well as Kamal for envisaging good, meaty roles for them, with superb screen presence potential.
Parts that could have been better:
1) Editing could have been lot more slicker. Either Mahesh Narayanan lost himself in appreciating parts he was enamoured with that he forgot to be objective, or perhaps out of his reverence for Kamal, didn’t antagonize ! In either case, he has let the audience down, especially the US parts of the movie.
2) Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy’s score is ok enough for songs but quite a letdown for war/vicious scenes.
3) Casting is a mixed baggage – while one set is exemplary, the other is either utterly unconvincing or unnecessarily trivialised.
As regards the Muslim protest angle in Tamilnadu and other parts of India:
1) This movie isn’t about Indian Muslims at all, at the first place. The whole setting is Taliban and the international(ised) terror spectre. In as much as an Indonesian or a South African Muslim doesn’t have to either carry the burden of ‘affairs of the region’ or have to feel overtly sensitive to even a discussion on the subject, Indian Muslims don’t have to feel a sense of outrage.
2) The overwhelming feeling any sane audience will have, as they leave cinema, WILL NOT BE one of viewing a nearby Muslim or the whole community as terrorist. Nor would they have a feeling of “Us vs. Them” reinforced. Instead, they’ll have a lot better appreciation of:
a) How savaged and ravaged hapless children, women and other gullible are, in war torn Afghanistan, who grossly outnumber those who supposedly fight on their behalf
b)The complex morality of what goes on, in either the name of religion or in the name of taming those who claim to have a ‘handle’ on this – it certainly does not trivialise the conflict as to show all as incurable radicals. It actually does present a very empathetic narration from ‘trenches’!