This Hansal Mehta (the ambassador of good cinema) film takes you to Bangladesh and gives the viewer of any hue to watch a movie without being judgemental just as the characters themselves are with their imperfections and warts.
The luxury is furthered by geographical and emotive distance in that it deals with a terrorist attack in Bangladesh and not our own soil.
Characteristically drawn again in the context of a single community, it perhaps suffers the least from the common factor of being traditionally Islamophobic. The redeeming part is you know if it is from Hansal Mehta, the narrative would not be robbed of balance.
July 2016: Five amateur youths take over a high-end coffee shop and restaurant and hold all the unsuspecting victims hostage. At the end of the film, the inmates march out from the hotel with neither the primary protagonists nor the lead players on the other side surviving to tell their story. While one victim is himself prey to propaganda that he is part of and the only survivor among the terrorists, the main civil survivor is recognised posthumously for his courage.
It is a very simple take: Five untrained youngsters enter the eating place without many strategies, planning or challenge but with lots of ammunition. They hold all the inmates to an unstated ransom. What their demands are, who are they targeting, who are they puppets or agents, and from what societal backgrounds do they reach this suicidal and destructive path is not a part of the narrative.
It is in fact a very peripheral slice. While on the one hand, we have but a peep into their eating lifestyle. We also have a keyhole image of Faraaz (Zahan Kapoor) as being the son of an affluent family where his aggressive mom (Juhi Babbar) wants him to go to Stanford and he refuses.
Within the precincts of the hotel, the crew shoot indiscriminately at first with a clear message that no harm can be caused to the local citizens of Bangladesh. Among others in the hotel is Faraaz who given his social position is even offered that he may leave which he refuses as his two woman friends are not extended the benefit.
The scene now shifts to how the police and the defence personnel handle the episode. The depiction is reflective of how unprepared the system was to even a remote possibility of such an incident. When it is time to negotiate, they attack and just when it is time to attack, they are told to negotiate. All roads fail. The inmates walk out of the traumatic night largely due to the benevolence of the captors than anything attributable to the captives or the system.
Unfortunately, just as the incident, the intent of the film is shrouded in confusion and the final outcome looks a tad too amateur or at least unprepared and ill-researched.
Unknown names and faces help the characters to come up with a clean slate, but the slate remains clean even after they are all done and dead.
The terrorist group comprising Harshal Pawar (Bikesh), Mobashir (Jatin Sarin), Rohan (Sachin Lalwani) and led by Nibras (Aditya Rawal) shows promise but there is not much in offer beyond Aditya Rawal – the son of Swaroop Sampath and Paresh Rawal. This guy has papa’s talent. Hope to see a lot more of him in the future. He is the mainstay of the film.
Zahan Kapoor – son of Kunal and the grandson of Shashi has a very subdued debut and has no role worth the mention. The choice of the film reflects where his priorities lie. Hope to see more of him too.
More importantly, notwithstanding the shortcomings which are aplenty, the film is human and poignant. There is enough to observe and empathise with the willing. It is also refreshing in the context of what a mainstream staple meal is. It looks like the Box Office is not giving it a chance. It is for the viewers of good cinema to step out and be counted....