Sunday, 13 September 2015

Film review: Phantom

His previous film made millions, but this one will clearly not.  Director Kabir Khan's film on 26/11 will get nowhere near the collections of his previous 'feelgood' film.  Because they don't like it you see.  By they I mean not just our friendly neighbours, but also their expatriates who live in other countries, and their co-brothers.  These days you need to entice them with friendly themes to ensure that you have a hit on your hands; as most Hindi film makers seem to be doing recently.  

It would be tough to entice them into watching this one.  Because you see, it tells the truth.  And truth, has always been a bitter pill to swallow for our neighbours.  Their basic policy with regards to 26/11, and all the hundreds of other attacks launched against our land from their soil can be summarized in just two words: deny and defend.  

Deny they had any hand in whatever happened, and deny that the terrorists were their own kith and kin.  If confronted with the truth, defend yourself to the core; never give an inch; because attack is the best form of defence.  

And this does not just pertain to the government officials or spy agencies; it applies to almost all citizens of that country.  Which is why a ban on the film was readily accepted by all concerned.  

Some Indian, who dares to enter their soil to kill their own men!  How can this be allowed?  Only America is allowed to do that.

Now about the film.  It is well made throughout.  Even though there is a disclaimer at the beginning of the film to state that the story is not based on any actual character, it is obvious from the amazing likeness of the actors to the real life culprits, as to who this is based on.  Especially the actor playing David Headley; the resemblance is uncanny.  Besides, what are we scared of?  It is based on 26/11, and the terrorists who plotted the attack, period.   

Acting by all is good, but Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub steals the show from right under the noses of Saif Ali Khan and Katrina Kaif.  He is just sensational in a small but significant role.  One can see his stock rising in the days to come, and he richly deserves it.  

If anything, the film is probably a bit too slick, and I wonder if a more measured approach would have worked better.  Especially the manner in which Daniyal (Khan's character) is cajoled into taking up the assignment is a bit too abrupt.  Also - I know others might disagree - but nobody on our side should have died in the end.  It should have been a clean, clinical mission that achieves its goal of eliminating the terrorists behind 26/11, without any loss on our side.  Haven't we lost enough already?

I am not going to give away anymore of the plot-line.  Like Baby, we want people to watch this film and find out for themselves what could be achieved with a little bit of derring-do.  

Yes, it is a story we wish were true.  And director Kabir Khan and the others behind the film deserve rich accolades for telling it.

It is still possible to put this idea into action.  We do have the personnel who are capable of undertaking such a mission.  But, is the government listening?

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